Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Closing the differential awarding and attainment gap in pharmacy

By Amandeep Doll, RPS Head of Professional Belonging and Engagement

Amandeep DollThere is a moral imperative to closing the degree awarding gap and registration assessment differential attainment gap for Black students and trainees in pharmacy education and training. We have known there is a problem for the last 10 years and it is disheartening and frustrating to see the lack of priority given to closing the gaps.

Our 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.

Not only does the degree awarding and differential attainment registration assessment gap have a real life impact on people's lives, affecting their career prospects and job opportunities, but we as a profession are missing out on incredible talent and diverse skills that will enhance and push us all forward.

Chairing the differential attainment gap working group for the profession is a tremendous privilege, working with key stakeholders within the profession who are passionate and committed to reducing the differential awarding and attainment gaps permanently.

The group has been able to fully articulate the current problem, examine actions that have been taken and discuss key areas for future focus. Work has taken place to identify the problems affecting Black trainees, but more needs to be done to prioritise and take forward the actions required.

We know that institutional and systemic racism and discrimination exist within societal structures including pharmacy. This has resulted in a lack of visibility and representation throughout our own leadership structures and university academic faculties and teams which do not represent the diversity of the profession. Through NHS England’s Pharmacy Workforce Race Equality Standard data, we also know that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals have a poorer experience compared to their white counterparts.

Why is this happening? We have a diverse profession - something which we should be very proud of - and we work in a range of sectors and undertake diverse roles. Yet, the data in our report shows that even when Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students overcome the hurdles that prevent them from getting to university in the first place, they do not have an equal chance at succeeding at both the undergraduate level and the pharmacist registration stage. We are not operating on a level playing field.

Our report aims to start a profession wide conversation about the Black degree awarding gap and registration assessment differential attainment gap and how to address it. It shows how structural inequality within universities and training placements has a profound effect on the ability to achieve for both students and trainees.

As part of my commitment to ensuring everyone feels like they belong and creating an inclusive profession, I’m looking forward to working with members of the working group to produce changes that will have a significant impact on the future of the profession. Our mission is to ensure current and future Black pharmacists, foundation trainees and students have the same opportunities and experiences as their White counterparts.

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

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