The Implications of Increasing Student Numbers for Pharmacy Education*
Keywords:Pharmacy, Pharmacy education, School of pharmacy, Socialization, Student numbers
AbstractThe number of students recruited into UK schools of pharmacy has increased considerably over recent years and is set to increase further still as new schools of pharmacy begin recruiting from 2003. This increase in student numbers mirrors international trends and reflects both the need to address shortages in the pharmacy workforce and the exercise of market forces within UK higher education. Increased enrolments of less academically able students onto MPharm courses potentially threaten academic standards. Pharmacy schools will need to modify their courses and assessment methods to meet this challenge, whilst at the same time striving to ensure that pharmacy programmes meet the rigorous academic demands of a masters level degree. As staff:student ratios worsen, maintaining the quality of the learning experience will become increasingly difficult, and efficiencies in teaching and assessment will inevitably be sought. Computer-based technology might offer innovative, cost-effective solutions to some logistical problems, but such technology distances the learner from the tutor, and reduces opportunities for students to accrue values and attitudes that form part of their professional socialization. As the numbers of students enrolled into existing schools increase and new pharmacy schools are inaugurated, the already small and diminishing pool of full-time pharmacist academics will be stretched to the point that students will have few opportunities to engage with such staff, limiting their opportunities to absorb the “culture of pharmacy” and hindering their development from student to autonomous professional.
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