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Scottish pharmacy students get £2.85m to study in new sectors

The scheme is run with the University of Strathclyde (pictured) and Robert Gordon University
The scheme is run with the University of Strathclyde (pictured) and Robert Gordon University

The Scottish government has awarded £2.85 million to support pharmacy students in getting “hands-on” experience in primary and emergency care.

The ‘Scottish pharmacy experiential learning’ scheme – organised in partnership with the University of Strathclyde and Robert Gordon University – aims to build on the existing hospital and community pharmacy training offered on the MPharm courses, by extending placements to other sectors, NHS Education for Scotland (NES) said last week (February 19).

Pharmacy students at the two universities are currently taking part in three pilots between January and March 2019, to allow them to gain “hands-on experience…in new sectors such as primary care, out-of-hours services and remote and rural practice”, NES told C+D.

Feedback from the pilots will inform the MPharm course in future, NES added, and further funding will be determined by the Scottish government.

The £2.85m funding – awarded to NES and the two universities for this financial year 2018-19 – “will provide support for practitioners to allow dedicated time with the student pharmacist”. It will also be used to cover students’ travel expenses, to allow them to undertake placements in remote or rural pharmacies, NES said.

“The funding for each experiential learning experience will depend on the number of student pharmacists hosted at the site and the length of the [scheme],” it added.

CPS: Exactly the support we need

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) told C+D community pharmacies provide the “vast majority” of placements across the country. “We were stretched to capacity before this funding was announced, so this is exactly the support we need to see for the longevity of community pharmacy.

“Now is a really important time to be encouraging more young people to study pharmacy, as we are seeing more and more employment for pharmacists in Scotland, without a corresponding rise in student numbers and qualified pharmacists,” CPS stressed.

The funding will also pay for the training to be standardised, which will result in a consistent experience for students, while giving pharmacist tutors more confidence in their abilities, CPS said.

Vital investment in pharmacy

Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer Rose Marie Parr said the funding will “enhance the experiential learning of student pharmacists, making the hands-on experience more fruitful”.

“It is vital that we continue to invest in our pharmacists of the future, so that the use of medicines can be optimised and ensure that patients continue to get the best results from their medicine,” Ms Parr added.

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