Real life experience across the healthcare sector is to play a vital part in producing the future leaders of the pharmacy profession, according to Prof Kevin Shakesheff, Head of the School of Pharmacy at The University of Nottingham.
Prof Shakesheff made the assessment after hearing feedback from over 200 third year pharmacy students who were reflecting on the first Insight Placements to be conducted by the school.
Unlike other placements undertaken during the course, on which students shadow working pharmacists, the Insight Placements see third years work with a variety of healthcare professionals. These include: GP practice and PCT staff, mental health nurses, occupational therapists, intermediate care providers, prison health workers and early support discharge teams.
By spending time with other practitioners, the School hopes its students will gain a broader understanding of healthcare services and the staff that work within them, while getting the opportunity to develop their communication skills through patient interaction.
Students will also learn the importance of confidentiality and gaining consent, as well as how to evaluate a patient’s treatment in the light of national guidelines and critically reflect upon their learning and experience.
Prof Shakesheff explained: “We’re training our students to lead the pharmacy profession in the future. To be leaders they need to get real life experience throughout the degree so they can see how their University training will impact on their future in healthcare.
“Pharmacists play a unique role in healthcare because they need to interface with so many different types of professionals. We hope that our students will appreciate the demands of this role early in their degree so their learning is more relevant.”
One student to have benefited from this new initiative is Pick Siu Tan, who spent her placement on a mental health ward. Pick Siu agreed that the placement had helped her realise how her role as a pharmacist will fit in with the larger healthcare process when she graduates.
Pick Siu said: “Before the placement, one can lose touch of reality and get lost in the world of pharmaceutical theories and books. This placement is important to get a feel of the needs of patients and bring us back to why we strive to be health care professionals: to help and to care for the community.
“It has helped me gain a deeper understanding of how the role of a pharmacist interrelates with other health care professionals and helped me to select my specialty. This has also been a great opportunity to accelerate my understanding of customer relations, the growing emotional and medicinal needs of the community and the importance of pharmaceutical knowledge in issuing prescriptions.”
After reflecting on their own experiences, the students were given the opportunity to discuss them further with school staff, their peers and some of the healthcare practitioners that had hosted students. This enabled the students to find out what their peers had learnt from the variety of healthcare settings visited, to have their perceptions challenged and allowed placement providers the opportunity to see the impact of their valuable contributions to the students learning.
Following this reflection, it was not only the students who had found the initiative useful. Elizabeth Pain, a Practice Manager at Dr Sood and Partners GP surgery, explained that her practice has a strong educational ethos and was happy to accommodate the students.
Elizabeth said: “We believe in the importance of multi professional learning and working together as a primary healthcare team to deliver the best possible healthcare to our patients. Education is life-long and we feel that it is important for all health professionals to understand and value each other's roles. The staff here certainly have a better understanding of the training undertaken by pharmacy students now.
“In the current climate within the NHS it is even more important that health professionals work closely together to treat patients in the most effective and efficient way. Without an understanding of individual roles and expertise within the wider healthcare team this is made more difficult.”
Dr Matthew Boyd, Academic Lead for Insight Visits said: “It has been wonderful today to be able to share the magnificent and diverse experiences our students have been able to be a part of and further augment their learning. Without the placement providers donating this valuable time to host our students none of this would have been possible. It is obvious from the students’ work that these visits will have made a significant impact on their future practice as pharmacists.”
Placement providers and students will now review their experiences before the School carries out plans to increase the number of opportunities that students have to interact with patients, change their perceptions of some healthcare sectors and show off the quality of Nottingham’s Pharmacy students.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.
The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.
More news from the University at: www.nottingham.ac.uk/news
For more information contact Dr Matthew Boyd, Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice and Academic Lead for Insight Placements, School of Pharmacy, The University of Nottingham on 0115 951 5061, firstname.lastname@example.org