How do pharmacy students select their pre-registration training providers? A mixed methods evaluation of the national recruitment scheme in England and Wales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

External organisations

  • NHS Health Education England, London, UK.
  • Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK.
  • NIHR Birmingham Biomedical Research Centre, University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  • Departments of Cardiology, Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK.
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society, London, UK.
  • Institute of Clinical Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham UK.


OBJECTIVES: A national pre-registration pharmacist recruitment scheme, which replaces the local recruitment models, was introduced in England and Wales in 2017. This study aimed to explore pharmacy students' behaviour and associated factors in their selection of pre-registration training programmes.

METHODS: A mixed-method study using (a) analysis of data from all applicants (n = 2694) of the national recruitment scheme, (b) an online survey and (c) a virtual focus group was undertaken. Survey and focus group questions were developed based on the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF). Descriptive and inferential analysis of quantitative data was undertaken using Stata software. Qualitative data from focus groups and responses from the open-ended questions were analysed using framework technique.

KEY FINDINGS: A vast majority of applicants (n = 2182, 83.9%) selected a hospital training programme as their first ranked preference, with the rest opting for community pharmacy. Urban areas, particularly London, were most popular geographically. A total of 307 survey responses were returned. Long-term career aspirations, followed by geographical factors, were rated most highly in applicants' decision-making. Qualitative data from survey and focus group demonstrated information about programmes/employers, perceived opportunity for skills development and aspiration towards a career path as key contributory factors in their decision-making.

CONCLUSIONS: Secondary care was the most desirable destination for pharmacy students to undertake early career training. The clinical roles and career opportunities in community pharmacy needs to be promoted as there is a risk that community pharmacy training programme places may be seen as a 'left over' opportunity for less competitive candidates to uptake.

Bibliographic note

© 2020 Royal Pharmaceutical Society.


Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
Early online date26 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Feb 2020


  • career choices, decision making, pharmacy education, professional training, student attitudes