end point assessments

Spotlight on... Pharmacists

We shine a spotlight on standards in our industry. The first in our series is the ill-fated Pharmacist standard, which has been on and off the shelf numerous times since it was announced.


The medical industry needs skilled people. 

At the moment, the only route for people to access positions within healthcare is to study medical degrees at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, or have a wealth of experience if their degree is more general.

From consultants to pharmacists, all need to have a large educational undertaking before heading out to fulfil their purpose. This all takes time; time that bodies like the NHS do not have to spare. 

Which is why in April 2019, proposals for a level 7 Pharmacist standard - the equivalent of a masters degree - were drafted, designed to give learners another route to get into healthcare in the future.

Alongside their studies, students would have the opportunity to work alongside GP practices, NHS trusts, and community pharmacies.  

The pros were obvious: 

  • Accessibility: it would allow those who didn't suit academic life to gain a qualification in their chosen field.
  • Learning on the job: by having people in the pharmacy, it plugged the short-term skills gap while training new pharmacists.
  • Hosted by top companies: pharmaceutical giants like Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, and Well Pharmacy were signed on to offer and take on apprentices in their stores - making the roll out nationwide, and once again accessible.  

So why is there, as of 2023, still no Pharmacist standard?

Various hold ups have been cited, but according to C+D, the latest reason for the current plans to be shelved is due to the assessment apprentices would have to take before joining the medical register. 

Either the General Pharmaceutical Council or the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education needs to take the reins. However, there have been major difficulties in resolving who has accountability for these end point assessments. So for the meantime, the implementation of this degree apprenticeship is on hold… again. 

Another significant pause in the process came in December 2019, when employer groups were receiving criticism over the level of education. 

This was pinned down to poor communication. In principle, there is no difference between a masters degree and this degree apprenticeship; medics have a similar pathway and there is no drop in the standard of learning. 

However, the employer group stated that more work was needed to address and solve some of the misconceptions surrounding the relationship between degree apprenticeships and regulated occupations. 

With major disruption then caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for a Pharmacist Level 7 standard were, once again, put on hold. While they may not be cancelled, and are still an interesting prospect for the future, those wishing to enter the pharmaceutical field will at present need to take the university pathway.

For now, the prospect of a Pharmacist Level 7 standard is paused, not cancelled - however for those who wish to enter into this field of medicine, their only route continues to be university.  

While we wait to see if the Pharmacist standard becomes another opportunity for learners to chart a course toward their dream role, at Skilltech, we’re thrilled when any new standard is available to learners. EPAOs are able to add it to our system epaPRO with ease, from on-boarding to the final assessment.

To book a demo, contact us here.  

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