The pharmacy workforce: an exploration of factors influencing postgraduate professional development. The transition from foundation to advanced pharmacy practice

Exploring the transition between early pharmacists’ careers and advanced practice.

Ms Helen Chang, University College London


It is predicted that the number of people in England living with chronic conditions will rise over the next decade, creating a need for greater access to primary care professionals and more specialist services. Furthermore, an ageing population, the increased prevalence of long-term conditions, and rise in patients with more complex healthcare and pharmaceutical needs, will have a significant impact on health and social care. The demand for health and care skills could grow more than twice as fast as overall population growth by 2035.

Development of the pharmacy workforce should focus on the needs of patients and the public; we need a pharmacy workforce who is trained to manage complexity and improve patient safety. There is growing consensus, internationally, that healthcare professionals should not be trained for specific jobs, but to be flexible and adaptable. This approach will enable pharmacists to better respond to and meet this demand.

Evidence shows that targeted developmental frameworks enhance professional development for early year pharmacists and those practising at an advanced level; however, we are less clear about how developmental transitions occur, and the actual impact that targeted frameworks have on delivery of care and the specific acquisition of generalist and specialist knowledge and skills. This is important to understand in order for better workforce development planning.



This project will explore the developmental pathway of pharmacists from early career (foundation stage) to advanced pharmacy practice.

The objectives are to:

  1. Explore and describe how foundation pharmacists progress through their early careers and make the transition into advanced practice
  2. Identify motivators and barriers to progression to advanced practice
  3. identify support required for progression and professional



The research project will be delivered in two phases. Phase I focuses on foundation practice, progression and advancement, exploring how foundation pharmacists progress over time. This phase also explores pharmacists’ experience of progression and how it impacts the management of complex cases in practice. Phase II focusses on factors influencing progression to advanced practice. It will capture pharmacists’ views of factors influencing professional development on completion of foundation practice, more specifically what are the motivators and barriers to progression, and support needed for progression.


How this contributes to practice

This project will create evidence of how pharmacists transition from foundation practice to advanced practice, and the motivators and barriers to progression. By understanding the professional development journey and factors that influence progression, appropriate support can be developed to aid development to ensure pharmacists develop necessary skills and knowledge to deliver safe and effective patient-centred care.


This project started in September 2016 and is due to finish in September 2018.

See the detailed project description for more information.