Teaching Extemporaneous Preparation in UK Schools of Pharmacy


  • Tanbira Chowdhury 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
  • Geoffrey Harding Department of General Practice and Primary Care, St. Bartholomew’s and the Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, Medical Sciences, London E1 4NS, UK


Extemporaneous preparation, Pharmacy, Pharmacy education, Survey


Aim: To establish the nature and content of contemporary teaching of extemporaneous preparation/dispensing in UK schools of pharmacy.

Method: A self-completed questionnaire was issued electronically and via post to the member of academic staff responsible for the design and development of extemporaneous preparation teaching within each UK school of pharmacy. A 100% response rate was achieved.

Key findings: Extemporaneous preparation is currently taught in all 16 UK schools of pharmacy, with all students gaining practical experience of this type of dispensing. Practical classes, which encompassed 62% of the total time spent on teaching extemporaneous preparations by all the schools, were the most popular mode of teaching used. Students spent on average 29.7 h in practical classes which comprised between 26 and 50 students in the majority of cases, with a mean staff/student ratio of 1:11.5. All schools included registered pharmacists in their teaching teams which comprised predominantly academic staff, teacher practitioners, laboratory assistants and technicians and postgraduate demonstrators. The most popular extemporaneous products were solutions and suspensions, prepared in all schools, and the least common were gels and pastes. All schools set a practical assessment, however only nine respondents were confident that a student of average ability would, on graduation, be able competently to dispense extemporaneously. In terms of course development, 12 schools had introduced changes into the course as a result of the Peppermint Water case. However, the hours spent in extemporaneous practical classes had generally decreased or remained constant over the past five years. Most respondents envisaged the hours would remain constant in the future.

Conclusion: Currently, all pharmacy students in the UK are taught and assessed in the practical aspects of extemporaneous preparation and dispensing. Courses vary in content and emphasis throughout the UK, but they have in common an emphasis on practical skills, high staff/student ratios, the types of products made and pharmacist representation in course design and teaching.


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Research Article