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RPS urges action on attainment and awarding gap in pharmacy

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The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has published a new report examining the differential degree awarding gap and registration assessment attainment for Black trainees in initial pharmacy education and training.

The report, Chasing equality in pharmacy training - closing the awarding and attainment gap for Black trainees in pharmacy reveals a pharmacy degree awarding gap of 12% and a registration assessment attainment gap of 22.6% persists between Black and White trainees.

Differential attainment refers to the unexplained variation in attainment between groups who share a protected characteristic, such as ethnicity, gender and disability. The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) first recorded this variation in pharmacy attainment for Black trainees in 2013, and the awarding gap at undergraduate level has been tracked by the Pharmaceutical Journal.

The report highlights that a decade later, despite some improvement, significant differences remain in the awarding and attainment gaps for Black students and trainees compared to their White counterparts.

The report is informed by an extensive coalition of stakeholders including RPS, British Pharmaceutical Students' Association, the Black Pharmacists Collective, the Black Pharmacist Initiative, General Pharmaceutical Council, NHS England Chief Pharmaceutical Officer’s Team and the Pharmacy Schools Council. It identifies key areas of focus and makes recommendations to tackle the gap including:

  • Improving data collection and analysis
  • Promoting inspiration, aspiration, and role models
  • Removing bias from processes
  • Providing support during the transition from pharmacy student to foundation training placements.

Additionally, the report emphasises the importance of educational supervisor training, the implementation of protected learning time in foundation trainee placements, and an annual equality, diversity and inclusion forum to ensure good practice is being shared across Schools of Pharmacy and training placements.

Lead author of the report, RPS Head of Professional Belonging and Engagement, Amandeep Doll, said: “The gaps that persist are inequitable and deeply disappointing, with real world impacts on individuals and their careers. This report is a call to action for the entire pharmacy community to prioritise the reduction of degree awarding and registration differential attainment gaps and provide greater equity for Black trainees.

“RPS and its partner organisations are committed to addressing this issue. By working together, and implementing the recommendations of the report, we can make a real difference and create a more inclusive and diverse pharmacy profession which ultimately benefits patient care."

President of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, Nonyelum Anigbo, said: “The differential attainment gap is an issue that continues to hold back many Black trainee pharmacists from becoming qualified.

“Year on year, the differential attainment gap leads to the profession losing talented potential pharmacists from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds.

“Equitable changes need to be made to ensure Black pharmacy students and trainees are given opportunities and support to reach their full potential and successfully join the pharmacy workforce.”

Smaller task and finish groups from the report’s working group will be created to act on the recommendations, with a working group meeting every six months to update on actions.

The differential attainment gap has been a high priority agenda item for NHS England’s Inclusive Pharmacy Practice Programme, a joint initiative with RPS, APTUK and 13 other national partner organisations.

Read the report: Chasing equality in pharmacy training - closing the awarding and attainment gap for Black trainees in pharmacy

Register to join our ABCD meeting on Wednesday 21 February, 7pm-8.30pm, to discuss the report and how we can all help close the awarding and attainment gaps.

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