Faculty Action Learning Sets – getting by with a little help from our friends

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By Rob Davies, MFRPSII MRPharmS, Primary Care Pharmacist BCUHB, Board Member RPS Wales, Faculty Champion

As I was writing this blog, I was reminded of a line from one of my favourite Beatles songs: “With a little help from my friends”. For me, this encapsulates the essence of an RPS Faculty Action Learning Set: to be helped on your Faculty journey and help others on theirs.

Last year my career path took a sharp turn and I was on the lookout for new challenges. Embarking on my own Faculty journey seemed the next step but how was I going to put my portfolio together? A local support group would be great.

Following an inspiring talk from Faculty Lead, Hannah Wilton, myself and several colleagues from the Maelor Hospital Pharmacy Department in Wrexham, North Wales set up a Action Learning Set (ALS). We were a small group (usually three to six people attended each session) and we met for an hour every fortnight to review our own portfolio entries against the Advanced Pharmacy Framework. As we knew each other very well it was a trusting, supportive and constructive ALS. We became mentors to each other.

At the meetings we discussed challenges and difficulties and gave constructive feedback on our portfolio entries. We helped each other improve our entries and reminded each other of our own achievements. The feedback I received gave me greater confidence in my own portfolio, galvanising me to complete and submit my portfolio in August 2014.

I received my Faculty award at the end of October and was delighted at the feedback: ‘a good all round collection of evidence, for practice at Excellence-Advanced stage II’. Particularly gratifying is the feedback for each domain/cluster which showed ‘Mastery level’ for 3 of 6 domains, and suggestions for CPD. I can now benchmark my experience against peers and use post nominals to demonstrate to my employer my advanced stage of pharmacy practice and my commitment to professional development.

As a Faculty Champion, I’ve been sharing my experience by ‘marketing’ the faculty and its benefits to two hospital pharmacies in North Wales. The Action Learning Set in Maelor Hospital intends to continue to support colleagues on their Faculty journey and at a Wales level we are considering an electronic/ virtual ALS.

I would encourage all pharmacists, whatever sector, to read about the Faculty and how it can benefit you, your patients and your employer. If you are beginning your Faculty journey or intend submitting your portfolio soon, consider setting up an ALS within your department, or with colleagues locally. Your RPS Local Practice Forum should be able to advise. Please share your journey here.

Visit the Faculty website today to browse a wide range of resources.

With thanks to the Wrexham Action Learning Set, and colleagues who kindly wrote testimonials.