The pharmacist is one of the primary medical professionals in the healthcare sector. The main task of pharmacists is to improve patients' health and quality of life in the area of pharmacotherapy, regardless of whether they work in community or hospital pharmacies. The essential role of the pharmacist is to optimize patient treatment, including detection of adverse events and other drug errors. The significant influence of pharmacists on the increase in patients' adherence to the therapies is also emphasized. Furthermore, given the constantly growing health care spending, pharmacists' role in the optimization of therapy costs should be indicated [1–3].
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other organizations such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (AHAP) emphasize that pharmacists are the health professionals most accessible to patients [4–5]. Therefore, they should be involved in patient care. The role of a pharmacist in different countries, including within Europe, varies significantly [6–7]. Many of these differences are due to curricula, including soft skills learning through pharmaceutical education.
This article aims to compile the programs and standards of teaching the pharmacist profession in Poland and the United Kingdom (UK), including the final examination results, designed in Poland, similar to the pre-registration exam conducted at the end of pharmaceutical studies in the UK. The results of these considerations may be used to define new directions for pharmacists' education in Poland, including the development of recommendations and standards for teaching this profession in Poland.
Pharmacy education in Poland
In Poland, pharmaceutical studies are part of education in the field of medical sciences, health sciences, and physical education sciences. Studies last no shorter than 11 semesters, ending with the statutory work placement of 6 months. Additionally, after the 3rd and 4th year of studies, students complete one month of professional practice during the summer holidays [8–9]. The number of hours of classes and internships will be at least 5,300. The education standards of future pharmacists in Poland combine general and detailed learning outcomes, including knowledge in pharmaceutical, medical, biological, chemical, and social sciences. The pharmacy students in Poland obtain thorough knowledge about drugs and substances used in their production, pharmaceutical technology, metabolism, and effects of drugs, as well as the correct use of medicinal products. Students learn the methods and techniques of researching medicinal products in terms of chemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties. They gain knowledge of the basics of pharmaceutical law and management in pharmacy, including the principles of ethics and deontology .
Polish legal acts indicate that a graduate of pharmacy studies is required to achieve competence in the preparation, manufacture and quality assessment of medicinal products, providing reliable and objective information on the medicinal products and medical devices. A pharmacy graduate should understand the principles of pharmacotherapy rationalization, as well as skillfully conduct the research on both substances and medicinal products. General effects in the process of educating pharmacists in Poland in terms of knowledge and skills also take into account social competences by preparing future pharmacists to work in community pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, pharmaceutical wholesalers, the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical inspection as well as other offices and institutions, both state and local, operating in the field of pharmacy and healthcare .
Pharmacy education in the UK
The education of pharmacists in the UK is regulated by an independent body of the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). GPhC aims to protect and promote the health, safety, and well-being of people, especially those who need the services of pharmacists. Its main tasks include setting the requirements for practicing the profession, approving pharmacists and pharmacy technicians' qualifications, and keeping a register of pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacies .
The General Pharmaceutical Council accredits universities educating students in pharmacy, ensuring pharmacists' quality of education. The Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) studies in Great Britain last four years . Students are obliged to take at least 3,000 hours of classes directly related to pharmaceutical subjects during their studies, especially in relation to clinical practice. During their studies, students gain, amongst others, knowledge about the effects of drugs, the functioning of the human body, and broad universal competencies, including problem-solving, clinical decision-making, effective communication, numerical data analysis . Students preparing to practice as pharmacists in the United Kingdom gain practical skills from the first year of study. They are exposed to working with the patients during which students also have the possibility of practical problem-solving and pharmaceutical care planning, resulting from the educational standards set by the GPhC.
After graduation from their respective Universities, future pharmacists perform a 12-month obligatory internship in a community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, and the industry (or combining different types of practices). Completing the training is associated with taking the independent state examination conducted by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and obtaining a positive grade for this examination enables the use of the “pharmacist” title.