National recruitment scheme for pre-registration pharmacist training in England and Wales: A mixed method evaluation of experiences of applicant pharmacy students

Laura McEwen-Smith, Malcolm James Price, Gail Fleming, Tim Swanwick, Christine Hirsch, Asma Yahyouche, Jonathan Ward, Sharon Buckley, Atif Shamim, Vibhu Paudyal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: A national pre-registration pharmacist training recruitment scheme, which replaces local recruitment models, was introduced in England and Wales in 2017. The national recruitment system allows pharmacy students to apply for the 52 weeks training programmes (mandatory requirement for registration as a pharmacist), through a single application system prior to undertaking a nationally administered assessment. This study aimed to explore experiences of pharmacy students on the national recruitment scheme, particularly their views on the selection methodology, application process, and offer outcomes. Methods: This mixed method study involved a) an online survey of all (approximate n = 2800) year 4 (final year of MPharm degree) pharmacy students in England and Wales and b) a qualitative focus group with four students. The study population was eligible to participate in the 2017/18 national recruitment scheme. Survey respondents were invited to participate in a focus group. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive and inferential analysis. Qualitative data were analysed using the framework technique. Participation was voluntary. Ethical approval from University of Birmingham was obtained. Results: A total of 307 completed surveys were returned (approximate response rate 11%). Respondents were generally satisfied with the application process and commended the fairness of the selection methodology and convenience in allowing them to apply to multiple training providers. Most survey respondents (n = 181, 72.9%) were either satisfied or highly satisfied with the training programme they were offered based on their assessment performances. Three themes and eight sub-themes obtained from the analysis of over 200 open comments data from the survey and transcript of a focus group with four participants. Results suggested the need to widen the timeframe available for applicants to shortlist their preferred employers, improve the method of programme listing in the application system, and consideration of prior achievements including academic performances and placement experiences to be included in the selection methodology. Conclusions: Experiences of pharmacy students on the national recruitment scheme suggest that respondents considered the selection methodology to be fair. Student engagement and satisfaction with the recruitment system can be maximised through improved listing of employers and widening the timescales for students to shortlist their preferred employers during application process. Inclusion of University achievements in the selection methodology will require consideration of evidence based approaches. Low response rate limits generalisation of findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number453
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 4 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Early career training
  • Healthcare training
  • Pharmacists
  • Pre-registration training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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