Pharmacy Education In India: Dire Need Of Updating Current Curriculum
The quality of pharmacy education has a direct impact on the quality of healthcare offered to people in any nation. We have approximately 17 lakh registered pharmacists and all of these are dependent on the education they receive to pursue their goals and ambitions in life, as well as define the future of holistic patient care in the country
India is said to comprise one of the largest education systems in the world and our reach in medical science is very much established with strong pillars. Pharmacists are critical professionals in delivery of healthcare in the country as they bring in-depth knowledge of medicine composition, formulation and usage.
The quality of pharmacy education has a direct impact on the quality of healthcare offered to people in any nation. We have approximately 17 lakh registered pharmacists and all of these are dependent on the education they receive to pursue their goals and ambitions in life, as well as define the future of holistic patient care in the country.
Significance and impact of pharmacy education
Pharmacy professionals are expected to play an important role in healthcare delivery by providing advice and guidance to patients regarding the safe and effective use of medications. They are considered an important interface for patients for getting valuable advice on dosage, administration frequency, and time of administration, and preventing adverse drug reactions and drug-drug interactions.
Adverse drug reactions or ADRs are as dangerous as it sounds. Every medicine, vaccine or treatment that an individual takes might come with a few side effects depending on various conditions.
If the pharmacist has a sharp knowledge of pharmacology and is well-versed with good prescribing practices, one can prevent the patient from experiencing serious ADR or reporting back to their physician for dosage modification or change of drug at the first sign of ADR.
India is a vast country, ranking second in terms of population and as diversified a land as are the diseases, making the role of an informed pharmacist, especially in rural areas, even more important in the healthcare continuum.
Including a drug standard monitoring procedure in the country will not only prevent people from consuming harmful OTC pills but also give them access to the right medicines. People are unaware of having such a program or procedure.
No doubt, the central government has done a commendable job in spreading awareness about drug safety and seriousness towards the right medical aid, but spread of such informative messages in many remote locations is suboptimal. In such a situation a pharmacist plays a critical role for safe treatment administration in rural and urban areas across the country.
What is the role of a pharmacist? Are they receiving the right education & direction
Healthcare workers are finally in the spotlight after the chaotic times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The role of a pharmacist is gradually evolving from a dispenser of medicines to an expert in the field with multidisciplinary health care systems. They have the opportunity to get trained and shift in clinical management, laboratory diagnostics and more.
Pharmacy education is seen from an industrial and product-oriented perspective in India. This leaves less room for further improvement in the methods of profession as well as the method of education.
However, the current pharmacist education curriculum is complex, follows traditional structure, is not integrated with other medical professionals and is generally not welcoming of the latest changes.
Also, considering the fact that healthcare requirements can vary depending on several factors like geographical location, culture, age, sex etc; the education should be directed towards feeling these needs and not anything for industry or production. The government hospitals in India have approximately 25 per cent posts vacant for a pharmacist which already proves the lack of awareness of the student pursuing education in pharmacy.
The dire need of updating the current pharmacy curriculum
Although the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) has recommended a standardized curriculum for pharmacy practice professionals, the delivery of the curriculum changes from university-to-university.
The curriculum was last updated in 2020 with introduction of subjects like Social Pharmacy and Pharmacotherapeutics with an aim to hone students’ knowledge and skills in the areas of pharmaceutical care and preventative healthcare. However, the gap between the theoretical aspects and practical application persists.
Little coordination and collaboration between industry and academics further sharpens the wedge between the skills learned during education and those required for efficient discharge of expected role. The curriculum also lacks a great deal in terms of advanced techniques and practices which results in poor knowledge and career opportunities.
The curriculum must have pharmacovigilance (PV) and medical writing (MW) in the syllabus. Pharmacovigilance deals with the practice of understanding and monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they are licensed for use, especially to check if there are any previously unreported adverse reactions.
Medical writing involves applying the principles of clinical research in developing clinical trial documents and creating well-structured scientific documents that clarify the research results, product use and other medical information.
The current pharmacy curriculum does have some scope of improvement, like inclusion of pharmacovigilance and medical writing, integration with other medical professionals and increased collaboration between industry and academic institutions to enhance the skill development in the future pharmacy professionals.