Ryan Hamilton, president of the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, explains what the BPSA is doing to support students and trainees
As the official student organisation of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the only body that solely supports and represents pharmacy students and preregistration trainees it is important that the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association changes with the times. July 2011 saw the current BPSA executive take office and vow to make fundamental changes to what it offers its members.
These changes are already being seen, as the BPSA and the RPS now have over 10,800 joint members. However, there are many other changes planned for the next six months that will see the BPSA become an association we hope students will be proud to join.
Getting the best outcomes
This year’s executive hit the ground running and tackled the problems experienced with the registration assessments. By working with The Pharmaceutical Journal to launch a successful media campaign we gathered enough evidence to produce a comprehensive report of the problems experienced. From this we drew up 11 recommendations for change, which were unanimously accepted by the General Pharmaceutical Council in October 2011. As a result of this work we are confident that the upcoming registration assessments will be a better experience for all candidates, who will, unfortunately, still have to deal with the stress of the most important examination of their careers.
We regularly attend meetings at the Society’s headquarters to ensure students are at the forefront of professional issues. This is an invaluable platform not only for us to be able to promote our policies and activities to the Society but also to keep abreast of other issues that we should be informing students about. Over the past months we have also been increasing our involvement with other organisations to ensure student opinions are heard throughout the profession.
The Panel contains a selection of the organisations which we are currently working with and what we are doing to represent our members.
Bodies we work with
Helping members develop themselves
Continuing professional development is something that pharmacists have got used to and undertake on a regular basis. However, the process of CPD can sometimes be alien to students.
To introduce students to the concepts of CPD the BPSA provides the Professional Development Certificate (PDC) scheme, which encourages students to undertake further professional development, reflect on their experiences, and record this in a way that is identical to online recording for pharmacists.
In July our educational development officer set out to overhaul the scheme and bring it up to date. The new scheme will move away from the often strict world of competency frameworks and introduce a scheme based around learning objectives and outcomes, with tangible results that will enable successful reflection and future planning. This is not to say we are abandoning competency frameworks completely.
The new scheme will enable students to understand the importance of competency frameworks and how these can be used to identify learning needs. From this we hope to prepare students for the preregistration performance standards, and increase engagement with the leadership competency framework.
Finishing touches are now being made to the scheme, which will be officially revealed in the coming weeks. From here we will also seek the engagements of the universities and also employers.
Bringing the association up to date
The BPSA has embraced social media for a number of years and we are seeing it increase engagement with our members. However, there is much more to a web presence than Facebook and Twitter.
The BPSA is working hard behind the scenes on another project — a brand new website. The current website has outgrown itself and as a result we are taking a fresh approach. Our new website will make finding information easier and faster and provide an experience that is welcoming and interactive.
Redesigning the website will also allow us to show visitors how the BPSA and RPS are working together to provide students with a wider range of services than ever before. The new website will be launched at the BPSA annual conference.
Seventy years of success
In 2012 the BPSA is celebrating its 70th anniversary, making it the oldest national pharmacy student association in the world. This year we will be celebrating everything we have achieved in the past and more importantly looking forward to another seventy years of success in the future.
The 70th BPSA annual conference is taking place at the University of Sunderland and Saturday 14 April 2012 will be the official day of celebration. The daytime will play host to our medical exhibition, which will include a display of our past and present and the launch of the new website. In the evening we will be having our 70th BPSA annual ball in Newcastle upon Tyne. Tickets are on sale through the conference website (www.conference.bpsa.co.uk).