Helen Ireland

Helen Ireland



I am a part-time, distance learner student and enrolled on the doctor of education (EdD) programme since October 2013. I successfully completed my post graduate certificate in clinical education (PGCert) in 2007 and my masters in clinical education (MEd) in 2012.

I work full time in an NHS hospital as a pharmacist and have been in my current role since 2009. I work 40% of my time providing pharmaceutical services within a hospital and 60% as the South West (SW) region preregistration pharmacist training lead at South West Medicines Information and Training (SWMIT), both based in Bristol. In my training role I organise and facilitate residential learning courses every 6-8 weeks for 35 preregistration trainees. 

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

I really enjoyed undertaking my PGCert and MEd where I linked learning theory and learning practice. I also particularly enjoyed my MEd critical study, whereby I explored the learning experiences generated from an e-learning platform and how this complemented face to face learning. This project gave me thirst for research and for studying aspects of every day practice, for asking critical questions about how learning links with practice and patient care and also for sharing these findings and questions with others.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

My role within pharmacy education and service delivery has informed and directed my study proposal.  I can see the potential impact of my study findings on the current debate on professionalism and the instruction this will give to pharmacy education.

What are my plans once I have completed my PhD?

I wish to share my findings within the healthcare educational arena. I wish to also use my study to add to debate and planning of the 5 year integrated pharmacy degree within the UK.

Research interests

Submission Date: July 2020

This study is an exploration of what is understood as professionalism within the preregistration pharmacist placement.  I seek to gain insight from a variety of perspectives by involving trainees, tutors, service users and also the pharmacy regulator to gather a variety of standpoints to illuminate the topic.

Professionalism and examples of poor professionalism have been a focus of several recent NHS reports this together with a transformation in the roles and responsibilities registered pharmacists are now undertaking, for example pharmacists working in GP surgeries and within hospital emergency departments, has demanded greater understanding of how professionalism is developed and assessed and greater understanding of what constitutes professionalism within the wider range of contexts and roles.

Professionalism has been recently explored within the educational literature extensively, however much of the published literature centres on doctor training or pharmacy practice within America. Some studies have focused on the understanding and assessment of professionalism within the preregistration pharmacy placement in the UK. However, these studies have often only considered the views or trainees and/or tutors. Important as these views are, it results in a limited understanding of how professionalism is developed and experienced within pharmacy practice. My study seeks to address this limitation and I propose an original and critical perspective, which will seek the views on professionalism within pharmacy education and practice not only of trainees and tutors but also of the professional regulator and service users. Hence the study will enable a wider understanding of how professionalism is thought to develop and how to recognise and assess professionalism. This will in turn have the potential to inform pharmacy practice and training plus contribute to debates about professionalism within the wider healthcare education arena.