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Pharmacy Council Split Over Quality of UTech graduates

Published:Friday | January 22, 2016 | 3:31 PMAndre Poyser

IN THE wake of news reports regarding the quality of some graduates of the pharmacy school at the University of Technology (UTech), there appears to be a divergence of views about the official position of the Pharmacy Council of Jamaica (PCJ) on the matter.

Registrar at the PCJ, Dr Radcliffe Goulbourne, who acts as secretary to the ten-member council had highlighted concerns about the ability of some UTech pharmacy graduates who sit the final assessment administered by the council to apply knowledge and engage critical thinking skills.

Goulbourne, in response to questions from The Gleaner, indicated that Dr Thelma Nelson, chairman of the PCJ, had made contact with UTech to discuss the matter. During those discussions, concern was also raised that 50 per cent of graduates who sat the final assessment in 2015 did not obtain the required pass mark of 70 per cent.

"Interns who failed, failed questions in areas that involves the application of knowledge. So critical thinking is a problem. The chairman has made contact with the dean of the College of Health Sciences at UTech on the matter. The regulation of the training of pharmaceutical students is a key function of the Pharmacy Council," Goulbourne told The Gleaner.


Six members of the council, who are representatives of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ), have since distanced themselves from the concerns raised by Goulbourne and the PCJ chairman in her communication to UTech, noting that the council had not come to a consensus about the issues raised.

"In response to the concerns expressed by the council regarding the quality of some UTech graduates, the society has made contact with its six PSJ representatives, which make up the 10 members of the Pharmacy Council to ascertain if this is, in fact, the position of the present council appointed in September but which had their first meeting called by the chair in December 2015. We have been advised that no such recent discussion has been held to arrive at such a consensus," the PSJ said in a release to the media.

The PSJ has called for clarity to be provided to substantiate the statements made.

According to the PSJ, "The Society to date has not received complaints regarding the quality of the performance of new pharmacists entering the workforce."

Dr Ernestine Watson, first vice-president of the PSJ, who is also a member of the council, pointed out that the council has had no discussion on the matter.

"I am a PSJ representative on the council and at our first meeting in December, I am not aware of discussions concerning the quality of graduates taking place, so I am not able to say where that concern is coming from. I could never comment as to whether there is a division or not. I can only say that as a member of the council, I have not been a part of any such discussion or know of any such discussion," she insisted.