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Pharmacy Council raises concerns about quality of some UTech graduates

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser

The Pharmacy Council of Jamaica (PCJ) has expressed concerns about what it says is the failure of some pharmacy graduates to apply knowledge and utilise critical thinking skills.

The council, which has responsibility for the regulation of the training of pharmaceutical students, says that it has made contact with the University of Technology (UTech) to discuss the issue.

The School of Pharmacy in the College of Health Sciences at UTech is the primary institution for the training of pharmacists in Jamaica.

Persons graduating from the pharmacy programme at UTech who want to be licensed as pharmacists in Jamaica must go through a year-long internship, submit a portfolio, and sit a final written assessment set by the council after completing their programme of study.




The performance of some of the graduates, from the 2015 batch of pharmacy students, in the final written assessment issued by the council has become a cause for concern, the council said. Fifty per cent of the graduates sitting the examination failed to attain the required pass mark of 70 per cent.

"Interns who failed, failed questions in areas that involve the application of knowledge, so critical thinking is a problem. The chairman of the council has made contact with the dean of the College of Health Sciences, UTech, on the matter," said Dr Radcliffe Goulbourne, registrar of the Pharmacy Council, in response to questions from The Gleaner.

Goulbourne also said that he was not surprised at the number of students who failed the final assessment given that "there are occasions of even higher failure rates in individual subjects at UTech. Subjects such as pharma-ceutical calculations, clinical pharmacy and therapeutics, pharmacokinetics and dispensing prove challenging for students."




Responding to the concerns outlined by the PCJ registrar, Dr Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, dean of UTech's College of Health Science, asserted that Jamaica delivers and maintains a bachelor of pharmacy course of study of a very high standard.

"The registrar's concern regarding the ability of graduates to apply theoretical knowledge is a matter that absorbs the entire national educational space. This is a problem that we address actively at UTech, Jamaica, through a patient-centred curriculum," she said.

Dr Sean Moncrieffe, head of the School of Pharmacy, said that "many of the modules in the pharmacy programme at UTech are practical-based and as such, students are required to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations. Third-year pharmacy students are required to work in the UTech Pharmacy each week under the supervision of a registered pharmacist."