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General Information about the Foundation Training Year

The primary aim of the Foundation Training Year experience in Northern Ireland is to reinforce among the trainees an awareness that they are to become members of a healthcare profession and to develop a professional attitude and a sense of responsibility, embracing the requirements of The Code (Professional standards of conduct, ethics and performance for pharmacists in Northern Ireland 2016) and its associated Standards and Guidance.

The Foundation Training Year takes place after students graduate with their MPharm degree.  It consolidates their initial learning and education and offers workplace-based, practical training in a clinical setting or settings.  The training enables trainees to build upon their pharmacy knowledge, understanding, skills and behaviours, and previous experience and to apply them to enhance their knowledge and skills in preparation for registration.  NICPLD is the organisation responsible for the operation and delivery of the Foundation Training Year programme.

The Standards for Foundation Training Year set out the requirements for training and apply to trainees, prospective trainees, Educational Supervisors and employing organisations. The primary purpose of these Standards is to ensure that trainees receive appropriate training, supervision and support during the Foundation Training Year so that they are well prepared to sit the Common Registration Assessment and, thereafter, practise as independent practitioners.

Standards for Foundation Training Year (January 2022) .

Educational Supervisor accreditation

From 01 July 2021, some Tutors who have up to date accreditation with the Pharmaceutical Society NI will automatically become Educational Supervisors.

Any Tutor, who trained before the Initial Education of Trainee Pharmacist Standards were implemented, is no longer qualified to be an Educational Supervisor until they undertake the Educational Supervisor Accreditation Programme, which is managed by The Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development (NICPLD).

For any enquiries please contact

The term “Educational Supervisor” will be adopted nationally within the pharmacy profession and is used across the healthcare profession to refer to someone with mentoring responsibility.

Introduction to Reforms to initial education and training

During the last decade pharmacists’ roles have evolved quickly in response to rapid changes in healthcare and pharmacy practice and there is a significant and growing demand across the UK for clinical, patient-facing pharmacist practitioners. It is vital that the pharmacy workforce is equipped to work flexibly alongside other health and care professionals, using their specific skills to help meet the changing demands in service provision and patient care. As a result, we need to ensure that the early stages of education and training of pharmacists are reformed to reflect the changing nature of practice, including the importance of assuring patient safety.

The Pharmaceutical Society NI and the GPhC undertook extensive joint consultation and engagement with stakeholders, including a public consultation in 2019, outlining the proposals to reform initial education and training. Reforms to the pharmacy undergraduate programme are also being progressed and will be implemented starting in autumn 2021 and completed within the next number of years.

Following approval by the Councils of both Pharmacy Regulators, the GPhC convened a working group, which includes the Pharmaceutical Society NI, to inform the final set of revised standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists and to drive the implementation of the standards.

In Northern Ireland, a parallel implementation group (the Education Reform Group) has been set up to complete the reforms here.

Following the finalisation of the standards, there will be a phased approach to implementation.  Reforms will start in July 2021 for those finishing their MPharm degree and beginning their fifth year of education and training.


28 July 2020 An update from the Chief Pharmaceutical Officers and UK Pharmacy Regulators

12 November 2020 – Stakeholder Engagement Event

On behalf of the NI Education Reform Group, the Pharmaceutical Society NI hosted an online meeting on 12 November 2020, to outline, and gain feedback on, initial thinking regarding the reforms.

The meeting was attended by over 70 people from across the pharmacy sector in Northern Ireland and was addressed by the following speakers, whose video presentations are available below.

The Implementation Group’s response to questions raised at the event is available here.

26 January 2021 New standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists

4 February 2021 Press Statement – The Pharmaceutical Society NI Council adopts new standards for the initial education and training of pharmacists

17 February 2021 Letter from Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, to registrants of the Pharmaceutical Society NI

Cathy Harrison, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, in a letter to registrants of the Pharmaceutical Society NI has welcomed a new era for pharmacist education and training following the approval by the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland of new initial education and training standards for pharmacists which marks a fundamental and exciting shift towards clinical practice for pharmacists.

The letter can be accessed here.

Introducing reforms to the initial education and training of pharmacists – what to expect in 2021/22

18 March 2021Letter to 4th year MPharm students from the NI Centre for Pharmacy Development and Learning and the Pharmaceutical Society NI 

18 March 2021Letter to Tutors/Educational Supervisors from the NI Centre for Pharmacy Development and Learning and the Pharmaceutical Society NI 

22 April 2021Update letter to 4th year MPharm students from the NI Centre for Pharmacy Development and Learning.

1 October 2021Update to Section 2 of the Standards for Foundation Training