Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Why we integrated protected learning time to our working day

By Clair Huckerby, Chief Pharmacist, Our Health Partnership and Consultant Pharmacist Primary Care Medicines Optimisation

Clair Huckerby, Chief Pharmacist, Our Health Partnership and Consultant Pharmacist Primary Care Medicines Optimisation

The importance of retaining Pharmacy professionals through Protected Learning Time (PLT) and Clinical Supervision

When I started working in my current role as Chief Pharmacist of a large GP Super Partnership, I knew the biggest challenge would be not only recruiting a team of pharmacists and technicians but more importantly retaining them. I always felt protected learning time was key to both of those things.

Since I started my job in 2020, I have worked with our Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and Practices to develop best practice recommendations for protected learning time which includes Clinical Supervision for all our clinical staff.

When you apply this to pharmacy professionals, whilst some of us might have time in our working hours for the development of ourselves and others, many of us end up doing this in our own time owing to our busy jobs and organisational expectations. This is contributing towards burnout and dissatisfaction, leading individuals to consider leaving their current posts or the profession altogether.

Creating a culture of personal development

One big selling point for our organisation has been our attitude towards personal development. Introducing our best practice recommendations for Clinical Supervision has created a standard to which we continue to aspire to. We have created a blend of protected, regular, free time away from day-to-day clinical workloads to enable our staff to engage in a variety of developmental activities. These include peer support networks, group and individual supervision, mandatory and role specific training, hosting undergraduate and trainee pharmacist placements, and conducting quality improvement work and research.

PLT’s positive impact on employee retention, mental health and organisational success

We recommend that approximately 10% of the individual’s time is protected for these activities as we move forward agreeing on job plans for all pharmacy professionals in our teams. So far, the feedback is good, and our offer around protected learning time is a major selling point during recruitment. Those new to us are telling us that this is one of the reasons they want to be part of our organisation. All of this has a positive impact on mental health and well-being, retention and staff turnover rates and supports our aspiration to be an employer of choice. It’s made a huge difference to all of us, and I see it as essential to our success.

Read our policy on Protected Learning Time

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