The pharmacy degree: The student experience of professional training


  • Kevin M. G. Taylor School of Pharmacy, University of London, 29-39 Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1AX, UK
  • Geoffrey Harding eninsula Medical School, Smeall Building, St. Luke’s Campus, Exeter EX1 2LU, UK


Curriculum, learning, pharmacy, social pharmacy, socialisation


Aim: To explore pharmacy undergraduates’ learning strategies and their acquisition of a professional identity.
Method: Qualitative study using group interviews with first and third year pharmacy undergraduates in four schools of pharmacy.
Key findings: Analysis of the transcripts yielded five themes: Student motivation for choosing pharmacy as a career; developing a distinct professional identity; socialisation for a professional identity; strategies for learning for a professional identity and social pharmacy’s contribution to a professional identity.
Students did not formulate their professional identity until they felt they had established competencies in core science. Students’ initial induction into their chosen profession comprised absorbing a substantial body of scientific knowledge. Rote learning was cited by many as the principal learning strategy to cope with this, though students recognised that this was inadequate preparation for their professional role. “Social pharmacy” was perceived as a legitimate topic though it was not regarded as a core element in establishing a professional identity.
Conclusion: Professional socialisation is limited by the perceived overriding importance of acquiring a common science background to underpin a professional identity.


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Research Article