Extemporaneous preparation teaching in UK schools of pharmacy: Anachronism or badge of office?


  • Geoffrey Harding School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK
  • Kevin M G Taylor School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29–39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK.


Dispensing, extemporaneous preparation, interview, pharmacy, pharmacy education, pharmacy lecturer


In this study, we aimed to establish the attitudes and beliefs of pharmacy staff currently teaching extemporaneous preparation in UK schools of pharmacy, regarding their perception of extemporaneous preparation teaching; their perceived significance of its inclusion in current MPharm degree programms, and their beliefs concerning the subject’s future sustainability.Fourteen individuals, each responsible for teaching extemporaneous preparation at a UK school of pharmacy, were interviewed by telephone using an inductive qualitative approach. Interviews were transcribed and the qualitative data wasmapped using a framework approach and analysed for underlying themes. Five main themes emerged from the transcriptions of the interviews: Logistical constraints associated with teaching; whether extemporaneous preparation is pharmaceutical science or practice, is in fact an art or not; whether extemporaneous preparation is outdated and irrelevant; the teaching of transferable skills; risk management associated with extemporaneous dispensing.These themes raise serious questions regarding the long-term sustainability of extemporaneous dispensing both as a professional activity for pharmacists and as a component of the MPharm degree. Yet whilst these teachers readily articulatedthat there had been a sharp decline in opportunities for practicing pharmacists to engage in small-scale medicines manufacturing, the scientific, practical and transferable skills enshrined in the teaching of extemporaneous preparation were defended as relevant to pharmacists’ contemporary professional practice. The responses by the university teachers interviewed indicate that they are fully aware of changes in pharmaceutical service delivery over recent years, and suggest that extemporaneous preparation teaching in UK schools of pharmacy has necessarily adapted to the changing environment in which pharmacy is practiced.


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Research Article