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The practice of pharmacy is one of the oldest practices, with early prescriptions inscribed on clay tablets dating back to the third century.
Today, it links the health and chemical sciences and is responsible for the safe and effective use of pharmaceutical drugs.
The profession has come a long way since the third century. But it is this very ability to constantly evaluate, re-learn and re-invent itself that often proves problematic for those who work in the industry.
Now, a PhD student at the University of Huddersfield has taken on the challenge of finding ways to help pharmacists keep up with the profession, in a field that offers new trends in prescription drugs every few years and requires not only a vast amount of knowledge and skills to succeed, but also the ability to constantly learn new things.
Jordanian-born student Deema Refai has undertaken to explore the ways in which she can help pharmacists to be more enterprising, increasing their ability to meet the demands of the profession and improve the quality of curricula in Higher Education Institutions.
Her research has attracted the attention of the Northern Leadership Academy, which has recently awarded her £2,000 to assist in her work.
Deema is well aware of the problems that face pharmacists on a daily basis; she gained her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy at the University of Jordan and has worked in a multi-national pharmaceutical company in Jordan and in the quality unit of a Higher Education Institution in Saudi Arabia.
She also has a Master’s degree in Marketing from the University of Huddersfield.
The aim of Deema’s research is primarily to gather the opinions of employers in all aspects of the industry – from clinical to production to marketing and sales – and understand the expectations they have of pharmacists entering the profession.
From there, she will look at the discrepancy between expectation and what is actually taking place in reality in HEI, in order to find ways of improving the curricula in HEI to equip students with the enterprise skills they need, not just on entering the profession but for the rest of their career.
“Working in this industry, there are many issues that you can face whichever field you work in,” she explains.
“For example, there are new drugs being developed all the time, meaning drugs you learnt about four or five years ago might now be obsolete, so you have to be constantly open to learning about new methods. From another aspect, pharmacists in the UK have to maintain membership at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society by submitting a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) record every year, where having the essential enterprise skills should help in submitting adequate records by developing the graduate’s way of thinking and behaving in a way that enables them to pursue personal and organisational development more effectively.”
Deema’s hopes for her research go beyond students in the UK; she hopes to transfer the positive experiences she explores here to Jordan.
“Having worked as a pharmacist in Jordan, I have faced these problems myself and that’s what initially motivated me to do this research. I’ve found that enterprise education in the UK is more advanced than in Jordan, which is one of the reasons why I decided to do my data collection here, so I can transfer the things I find across to Jordan. That’s another great thing about receiving the Northern Leadership Academy Fellowship – it means more people will be aware of the work I’m doing and I’ve already received really positive feedback from my peers and experts in the field, so I know I’m on the right track.”