PDA’s Education Hub delivers key successes over the last year

The PDA’s Education Hub is an online platform that provides free training to PDA members. It was launched a year ago with a programme of support for the newly developed cohort of ‘provisionally registered pharmacists’ who took on their new roles during a global pandemic.

Mon 16th August 2021 The PDA

In April 2020, the PDA made a commitment to all provisionally registered pharmacists to ensure that they had the support they needed. The launch of the Education Hub in August 2020 delivered on that promise, and over the last year, it has focused on supporting prov-regs, trainees (pre-regs) and student members.

“The Education Hub was launched last year at a time when pharmacists were under immense pressure due to the pandemic,” says Kate Kensington, Head of Education at the PDA.

“Provisionally registered pharmacists, in particular, needed support with their assessment and we were pleased to be able to offer them free support and resources through our online platform. PDA Education exists to support members in all areas, through developing the professional skills needed to advance their careers, using the revision programmes to help with their assessments and becoming trained union representatives who can help members in all areas of pharmacy.”

One year on, the PDA is pleased to shine a spotlight on some of the key successes of the Education Hub so far.

Support for provisionally registered pharmacists

Throughout the pandemic, the PDA has been championing the position of provisionally registered pharmacists who, during this time, are amongst the most vulnerable members of the profession. As part of the various activities over the last year that the PDA has been doing to support prov-regs, two online revision programmes were run to help prepare them for the assessment. There were also two online support programmes that not only helped to prepare them for the assessment but also provided them with additional resources to support them in their new roles, covering topics such as communication skills, social media advice and guidance on managing stress.

Support for trainee pharmacists (pre-regs)

During the pandemic, the PDA ran various Covid-19 pre-reg (trainee pharmacist) surveys and focus groups to identify the needs of this cohort during the uncertainty of the pandemic. These concerns and questions were then taken to the GPhC to ensure all voices were heard. The PDA also ran an exclusive members-only live webinar to support this cohort to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

Through the Education Hub, the PDA ran a revision support programme for those sitting their assessments in July, and Finishing First – a six-week support programme that helped this cohort to prepare for the assessment, learn new skills to use in their careers and find out more about how to revise effectively. There were also live events for trainees including an informative event where prov-reg members helped trainee members to understand what it was like to take the assessment online and answered any queries they had about the process.

Support for students

When ‘face to face’ teaching moved online last year and timetables were adjusted, many students struggled to adapt. Some were managing Covid-19 symptoms, lockdowns, and isolation rules within university accommodations.

To help support students, the PDA hosted a range of live events including an event on career pathways for pharmacists, run with experienced PDA members who helped to teach students where their careers could take them. There was a live event on mental health run in collaboration with Pharmacist Support on preparing mentally for exams, as well as a live event with the GPhC on the changes to Initial Education & Training (IET) and how this will affect students.

Kate went on to say “I am proud that we are able to offer members high quality, free training provision that helps them when they need it most. We have had a great first year of the Education Hub with thousands of early-career pharmacists and students coming together to learn with us. We are looking forward to expanding this provision over the following years to ensure that every member of the PDA can access some form of professional or personal development.

Support for PDA representatives

Through the Education Hub, the PDA has further developed the training and support for representatives and committee members, helping them to build union strength and capacity.

Student representatives who have been trained have been successfully working with Regional Officials to challenge and change practices in some universities around sitting exams during Covid-19, assessment procedures and ensuring students have a voice.

Later this year, the PDA will launch an education survey for all members to identify their needs and help shape the future programmes run through the Education Hub.

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