“A vehicle to engage with other healthcare professionals”: community pharmacists’ beliefs about how a postgraduate diploma improves inter-professional relationships

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Successive governments have attempted to promote closer working between community pharmacists and GPs,1 however there is little evidence to suggest relationships have improved. The University of East Anglia (UEA) has developed a competency-based postgraduate diploma for community pharmacists which includes the development of inter-professional relationships amongst its objectives. The aim of the study was to explore community pharmacists’ reasons for undertaking a diploma, to understand why they chose the UEA diploma, to explore their approach to learning and whether undertaking the diploma altered this approach, and to describe their beliefs about the effects of undertaking the UEA diploma on their practice, one aspect of which is described in this abstract.

Approval was obtained from a UEA ethics committee. 29 year one UEA diploma students were invited to participate in face to face interviews. A purposive sample of 15 students was selected from the 25 that consented to take part to ensure a diverse representation of views. The following sampling criteria were used: gender, age group, employer, pharmacy location, UK or other qualification, length of UK community pharmacy experience and nationality. A semi-structured topic guide produced for the interviews included four key questions: ‘Why did you choose to do a diploma?’; ‘What approaches have you taken to learning since qualifying?’; ‘How have you found the diploma so far?’ and ‘Has it made a difference to your practice?’ Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.

Five main themes were identified: awareness of the bigger picture; confidence; learning; motivation; and relationships. This abstract focuses on a key sub-theme of relationships: relationships with other healthcare professionals. A lack of interaction other than to pursue queries was seen as a barrier to forming effective relationships. Students described how the diploma had supported them to improve relationships with their local GPs. Course requirements for access to patient notes provided an excuse to make an approach which was not about a problem prescription or patient issue. A strategy of asking for support with their educational needs was adopted by many and the university-headed letter of introduction made this an easier task. Increased knowledge and confidence in their own abilities supported the students in developing these relationships. Students felt more trusted and that these relationships were becoming more of a partnership as a result. Little evidence was provided of relationships with other healthcare professionals.

Participation in the diploma encouraged students to develop relationships with their local GPs with some success. Previous research has highlighted the perceived inter-professional barriers between the two professions.2 Although the approach of asking for support with educational needs may seem to reinforce existing hierarchies, pharmacists felt that these relationships became more equal as they progressed through the course. This study suggests that undertaking further training courses may provide an opportunity for developing inter-professional relationships. A further set of interviews will be conducted as the course concludes to further explore the effects of improved relationships on individual practice.

1. Department of Health. Equity and excellence: Liberating the NHS. London: The Stationery Office, 2010.
2. Hughes CM, McCann S. Perceived interprofessional barriers between community pharmacists and general practitioners: a qualitative assessment. British Journal of General Practice 2003;53(493):600-6.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2013
EventHealth Services Research & Pharmacy Practice Conference - University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom
Duration: 9 May 201310 May 2013


ConferenceHealth Services Research & Pharmacy Practice Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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