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There is a need to revamp education system | Prof Chandrakant Kokate

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How should we revamp our pharma education to provide more emphasis on clinical and practical training, with a research oriented way of learning?

Pharmacy education is like a free-flowing stream. The teachers have to facilitate its hurdle-free flow. What was relevant in pharmacy education four decades ago is irrelevant today and what is being taught today may be out of place tomorrow.

In the past, pharmacy education in India was heavily loaded with pharmaceutical technology which was essential for creating human resources for our ever-growing pharmaceutical industry. The need of the hour is to revamp education system by strengthening the base of hospital and clinical pharmacy with a well drafted practical component to create the cadre of pharmacists who shall be capable of working with ease along with medical and paramedical professionals. To make  Ayushman Bharat scheme and Janaushadi Kendras projects successful, we need disciplined cadre of pharmacists to cater to the healthcare system of our country. The course currently should not be merely theory oriented. The institutions should establish strong linkages with health establishments in their vicinity to ensure effective training of the students in hospital and clinical pharmacy,as well as drug retailing.

In a nutshell, we have to strike a balance to make our teaching both industry and hospital oriented with emphasis on practical training.

What are the strategies to promote and foster self-assessment and continuous quality improvement of pharma educational institutions?

Pharmacy education has undergone rapid metamorphosis in last one decade. Number of institutions imparting Bachelor of Pharmacy have come up. There are more than 1600 institutions in our country of which many of them lack in adequate infrastructure of human resource and physical facilities. The mushroom growth of institutions has resulted in bringing down the academic standards.

The institutions of higher learning in pharmacy have to be the epicentres of knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination and storage of knowledge. To strengthen this base of education, the components of self-assessment and continuing education are required to be introduced in pharmacy institutions. Internal Quality Assessment Cells of the Institutes should be proactive. An effective self-assessment scheme has to be evolved and implemented to ensure that quality education is imparted by the stake-holders of the Institutes.

The accreditation of institutions by NBA and/or NAAC, the statutory bodies, should be made compulsory.

To keep pace with the newer trends in pharmacy education, the teachers should regularly undertake continuing education programmes for self improvisation.

There is urgent need to establish ‘Academic staff colleges’ in pharmacy for training of trainers in pharmacy. These colleges should be strategically located to cater to the needs of teachérs from different parts of the country.

Can you give some international examples of good pharmacy education? How can we adopt their strategies and apply them to the Indian context?

I visited some pharmacy institutions in USA, European countries like Germany, England and France, and South East Asian countries and interacted with the pharmacy teachers abroad. The practical teaching component in these institutions is very strong. The industry- institute interaction is real and not cosmetic.  The teachérs and students are immensely benefited by the linkages with industry. The research in institutions is liberally supported by pharma industry. Most important thing I have witnessed is the accountability in research on the part of teachérs working on industry sponsored projects.

I was impressed most with the academic environment prevailing in University of Chicago and University of Michigan in US, University of Muenster and University of Tubeingen in Germany  and University Sains Malaysia in Malaysia.

What is your message for your fellow teachers and the sector?

A good teacher is a life long learner, a preacher of academic values, a precursor for professional synthesis, a motivator for his/her students, an educator par excellence and a role model for the students. As teachers we should be proud of our profession. We should thank Almighty for having given us this opportunity to serve in the field of education.

This beautiful life we are all enjoying is God’s one time gift to us. Let us all prove worthy of it.

Next article – We need to upgrade ourselves | Prof Raghuram Rao Akkinepally

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