Return to practice — Day Lewis’s approach to support returners

By News team

Day LewisTayo Adeyemi could be described as a typical “returner”. Since 1997, she has been a registered pharmacist and, two years ago, she took a year-long maternity leave.

On her return to work in June 2009, her employer Day Lewis decided to formalise a returner-induction programme and put her through the scheme.

The length of the Day Lewis induction scheme reflects individual needs, explained Katriona Guerin, recruitment officer for Day Lewis. Two weeks was deemed sufficient time to support Miss Adeyemi’s return to practice.

In the past, induction programmes, which the pharmacist undertaking them is paid for, have varied from five days to three months.

Miss Adeyemi spent five days training with colleague Ade Olayide in a branch near the Peckham store in London, where she would be based on her return, and a further four days at home studying.

Working with a mentor

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Her mentor gave her a practical refresher session and the two pharmacists worked alongside each other, dispensing and carrying out medicines use reviews.

This also provided the mentor with an opportunity to identify Miss Adeyemi’s training needs, which were dealt with or fed back to her training manager.

Mentors are selected by various criteria, Ms Guerin explained, with the ideal mentor having at least three years’ experience and preregistration tutoring experience. A match based on personal circumstances and geographical location is also desirable.

Objectives agreed upon by Miss Adeyemi

Towards the end of the programme, Miss Adeyemi visited the Peckham branch to meet the staff. She also discussed her objectives and how she would deliver them with Sam Webb, head of training at Day Lewis.

Time-dependent objectives were agreed based on the development of herself, the business and the staff. These included plans to deliver 400 MURs by the end of March 2010, to visit a nearby surgery with a Day Lewis colleague by end of August 2009 and to train the store dispenser to National Vocational Qualification level 3.

The returner induction also included a refresher on the role of the head office, which included informal talks with colleagues from accounts, human resources, payroll and professional services.

The programme is, however, still in its infancy. Only 10 people have completed it since it was established last summer, and all have either been women who have been on maternity leave or are EU or overseas pharmacists.

Identifying training needs

Day Lewis is not advertising its scheme proactively and has no plans to do so. Participants found out about the scheme after responding to job advertisements. The company identifies training needs at the interview stage. Ms Guerin said that many pharmacists have great potential but may need initial support and training, which Day Lewis is happy to provide. The company also works closely with the National Association of Women Pharmacists, which has referred some returners to the scheme.

Open to anyone

The scheme is not just for existing Day Lewis employees. Ms Guerin believes it benefits not only those returning to work, but also the company itself. “Happy, motivated staff are more loyal, which benefits them and us. It may also serve to attract employees since the scheme is open to anyone who asks,” she said.

The Society should do more

Miss Adeyemi says it was hard going back to practice and, although the Day Lewis training manager went through all the main changes that had occurred while she was away, she believes the SalvaDore potentially has a huge role to play.

She said: “I’m not aware of any organisations other than the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education that provides return-to-practice support. I think the Society should provide those who have been away from work for a significant length of time a training course on important changes in practice, similar to the CPPE course”.

Currently, the CPPE only provides a return-to-practice course for those who have not been practising for three years or more or for those who want to change sector.

Panel: What other companies offer returnees

Asda

A spokeswoman said the company has no specific return-to-practice scheme but offers pharmacists with three years’ service a career break of three months to three years with guaranteed employment on return.

Boots

Boots offers all employees “keep-in-touch” days to enable staff tostay in with the business. A spokeswoman said: “Each individualpharmacist will have different requirements. Therefore, we work closelywith our professional teams to provide the necessary support for their return to work.”

Lloydspharmacy

Barbara Sutherland, head of capability at Lloydspharmacy,said that support and training needs are addressed on an individual basis. The company has an ongoing programme of training courses for pharmacists and their teams to help with new products and services.

Superdrug

Kit Tse, pharmacy development manager at Superdrug, said that the company recognises it is difficult to pick up practice straight away. Sponsored pharmacy managers spend one week with returnees who work-shadow them. There are 12 managers across the UK who have been trained to perform one-to-one training tasks.

The Co-operative Pharmacy

Co-operative Pharmacy recruitment manager Vicky Moore said that the support the company provides is tailored to each employee and will take into account how long they have been absent,their personal circumstances and any professional changes that have taken place while they were away.

She added: “However, it is the personal responsibility of individual pharmacists to ensure that they have undertaken the appropriate continuing professional development before returning to work after a career break.

“Colleagues on maternity leave have the option to arrange “keep-in-touch days” and we encourage people to maintain reasonable with their line managers and othercolleagues during their absence to help them keep up to date with key briefings as necessary. It is the individual’s choice to do this.”

Support from the new professional body

Responding to Miss Adeyemi’s comments, Catherine Duggan, director of professional development and support at the Society said that, later in the year, a mentoring scheme will be available from the new professional body.

Those who join will be able to access a mentor database, originally built by the UK Clinical Pharmacy Association and Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists, which will list leaders and mentors across various fields in the pharmacy profession. A mentorship package will include having the opportunity to discuss specific professional issues and the potential to shadow a mentor for those wishing to change sector or return to practice.

The database has already been populated with details of pharmacists from different sectors and within various fields of expertise, Dr Duggan said. It is hoped that, after separation, many more pharmacists will sign up, she added.

Other services that may be useful include the Society’s professional support and enquiry-answering service, a return-to-work online group and local practice forums. Further details are available via the new professional body’s website.

Dr Duggan stressed that all services provided by the professional body will be in accordance with future requirements of the General Pharmaceutical Council (see Panel 2). The Society has also developed a “programme of engagement” with companies and employers to ensure the support and development for practitioners fit with their needs if the standards are enforced by the GPhC, Dr Duggan explained.

The services the professional body will provide will be part of a wider support network for professional development. Dr Duggan explained that career support needs to be comprehensive to provide flexibility for pharmacists at all stages of their careers.

She said: “There is no typical returner to practice. We traditionally think of women returning from maternity leave as those in need of career support to return to practice, but many professionals take career breaks at different stages of their careers for many different reasons, including travel. Many also require support to change sectors of work or move to another part of the country.”

Panel 2: Return-to-practice requirements of the General Pharmaceutical Council

At present, there is no regulatory requirement for those on the practising Register to undertake any return-to-practice preparation. This will change in the future. Draft standards for the General Pharmaceutical Council put out to consultation by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence in October 2009 made several proposals regarding return to work.

In the draft standards, it is suggested that return-to-practice requirements should reflect the period the registrant has been out of practice and that a study requirement to update professional knowledge is necessary. It also made recommendations for a period of supervised practice in the setting the pharmacist will be returning to.

Those who have been out of practice for more than two years could be required to spend anything from 30 to 60 days undertaking supervised practice and studying.

However, in the report (published in June 2010, (460K)) on responses to the consultation on draft standards, the GPhC states that the return-to-practice policy will be consulted on at a later date. A spokeswoman for the GPhC confirmed that there is no definite date set for return-to-practice policy work.

Citation: The Salvadore URI: 11019556

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