Unique PEARS study evaluates pharmacy education

Professor Keith Wilson (left) and Dr Chris Langley (right).
Professor Keith Wilson (left) and Dr Chris Langley (right).

2 February 2011

A research team from Aston University in Birmingham, UK has completed The Pharmacy Education and Accreditation Reviews Project (PEARS), which reviewed professional pharmacy education as a whole in Ireland.

The Project was led by Professor Keith Wilson and Dr Chris Langley, who are based in the School of Life & Health Sciences at Aston.

The report has been approved without modification by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland and has also received endorsement from Irish politician Mary Harney, who is former Minister for Health and Children.

An implementation group has now been set up by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), which will implement the recommendations in the Aston report by the 2012/2013 academic year.

The Aston team were also responsible for the biggest UK study examining pharmacy education which took place in 2005. This looked at the four year MPharm programme across the UK, and the results of this study are currently informing a review of pharmacy education in the UK.

Dr Chris Langley explained: ‘In the PEARS Project, we assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the current system of pharmacy education in Ireland, gathered the views of key stakeholders and also made recommendations for the best ways to take undergraduate pharmacy education and training forward in Ireland. We made six major recommendations, with the most important being that the current ‘4 + 1’ model (where students spend four years at university and one year pre-registration) be replaced with a five year, fully integrated programme.’

Professor Paul Gallagher, who is Head of Pharmacy at The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Chair of the Professional Development and Learning Committee of the PSI, said: ‘The importance of this report cannot be over-stated. It was most important that an evidence based approach was adopted to the structure of pharmacy education going forward in the Republic of Ireland.

‘This report will enable policy and decision makers within the Irish Government to place pharmacy education at a point where it can be placed amongst the highest internationally benchmarked systems. Improvements in the education and training of pharmacists will also allow for significant enhancement to be made to the delivery of pharmacy services in Ireland as we move to expand the scope of clinical services that pharmacists will lead on though their participation in integrated care pathways.

‘It must be with a great sense of pride that the Aston team realise that they have chartered the course of pharmacy education in an entire jurisdiction for decades to come.’

Download a podcast about the PEARS Project.

For further information about the PEARS Project visit the Pharamceutical Society of Ireland's website

For further press information please contact Sally Finn on 0121 204 4552 or email s.l.finn1@aston.ac.uk.