What Professional Attributes should Portsmouth MPharm Students Embody at the time of Graduation?

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Increasing pressures on the National Health Service mean that UK Pharmacists are facing the probability of offering a wider range of patient-facing services than ever before. The potential for the provision of services such as mass independent prescribing requires future pharmacists to fully develop professional attributes to fulfil these roles. Existing MPharm programmes were accredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council based on standards which do not explicitly state the professional attributes to be developed, or how this is to be manifested. Pharmacy educators have therefore taken a variety of approaches to developing professionalism in their programmes.
This work aimed to identify and validate a set of professional attributes appropriate for demonstration by University of Portsmouth MPharm students by graduation, and to recommend mechanisms for developing the identified attributes in future versions of the programme.
Qualitative methods were used to identify and verify the set of professional attributes. MPharm teaching staff took part in focus groups, and pharmacy practice staff a modified Delphi method, to identify the attributes they valued. A metanarrative review examined the values of the regulator, the lay press, university admissions materials, academic studies and guidance and policy documents to identify the attributes valued by these groups. Final year MPharm students were interviewed to explore the influences on their professional development. The existing Portsmouth MPharm curriculum underwent framework analysis against the attributes identified to facilitate the recommendation of changes to fill gaps in the programme.
Key findings
Fourteen teaching staff members participated in the focus groups which identified the themes of personal qualities, reflective practice and academic ability, as well as fifteen subthemes.
Ten pharmacy practice staff members undertook the Delphi study, which identified fourteen statements that reached consensus, with 'exhibiting ‘professionally ethical’ behaviour’ and 'putting patients at the centre of all they do’ being most highly valued.
Eighteen student interviews revealed the key influences of Work experience, the university course and personal values.
Final analysis of the data identified and verified five emerging professional attributes as ‘themes’, which overarch twenty-two additional subthemes. Framework analysis demonstrated that most of these themes were not well developed in the existing MPharm programme. This led to the author developing recommendations for amendments to future MPharm programmes to develop the ‘missing’ attributes.
Six recommendations were made to narrow the gaps in the programme and develop the themes:

•Introduction of a professional tutorial programme
•Roles charters for students, staff, and placement preceptors
•Improved quality, and increased variety and quantity, of clinical placements
•Professional portfolios for each year
•Increased emphasis on becoming reflective practitioners
•Improved volunteering and community service opportunities
•An ‘aspire and excel’ programme to aid student professional development

These were incorporated into suggestions for the development of a Professional Attributes Programme, to run throughout the four years of the MPharm.
Through the identification and validation of the professional attributes required of pharmacy students at graduation, it was possible to make recommendations to improve professional development in the Portsmouth MPharm, aiming to prepare them for their future roles.
Date of Award25 May 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorPaul Rutter (Supervisor) & Jane Caroline Portlock (Supervisor)

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