I often get asked why I chose to study pharmacy at the University of Lincoln, an institution several hours away from my hometown of London. I was fully aware that the university was unaccredited by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) when I began first year there [in 2017]. I was the fourth cohort. I knew the school was in the last of seven stages of accreditation [which it achieved in 2018].
As the school is reputable, in all honesty I was not concerned about this. There was a positive aspect of being a part of the university during this final phase of accreditation by the GPhC. I was involved in this, along with a few other student volunteers. This made me feel that I had some input into the achievement, even if only a little. I think those in fourth year at the time, the first cohort, had a lot at stake, so I would not have been surprised if the topic of accreditation caused them anxiety.
I feel that pharmacy employers may be drawn towards graduates from newer schools, which have only recently been accredited, due to their modern and updated style of teaching. My university has integrated learning sessions, as opposed to lectures. Students have several hours of placements every semester and we have extensive practise in consultation skills. Our course is focused on the clinical side of pharmacy, in order to adapt to the modern expectations of pharmacists.
At the University of Lincoln, the science of how medicines work, how patients work and the professional skills of how pharmacists work, are integrated over the course's four years. It has smaller-sized cohorts of approximately 30-50 students. Taking advantage of the size, the teaching staff promote interactive learning in the form of workshops and group activities. We even have Interprofessional learning with students from other courses, such as nurses, once every semester.
Within the first few weeks of my first term, I was appropriately trained for and given the opportunity to attend a hospital placement, as well as a community pharmacy placement. Students can also attend placements at GP practices, hospices, and addiction charity AddAction. Our school of pharmacy head, Dr Paul Grassby, wholly encourages students to engage in extracurricular activities, including the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association, for which he facilitates funding for students at our university to attend these conferences held at other universities.
The first cohort of the school of pharmacy (now in their pre-registration year) produced exceptional results during the Oriel process, in which many of the students scored in the top percentiles nationally. During my time so far I have established great relationships with the teaching staff and feel proud every day about attending.
Saffah Huseeba Danial is a pharmacy student at the University of Lincoln, and a national representative for the British Pharmaceutical Students’ Association