A qualitative study exploring pharmacy education in a Saudi pharmacy school running two entry-level pharmacy programmes
Keywords:Pharmacy Education, Saudi Arabia, Undergraduate Pharmacy Programmes, King Khalid University
Background: Saudi Arabia has witnessed a period of significant changes in pharmacy education to enable it to keep up with the global education system in developed countries. The College of Pharmacy at King Khalid University (KKU) was established in 2003 in Abha and currently offers two undergraduate pharmacy programmes: a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences (B.Pharm.) and a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.).
Objective: The aim of this research project is to provide an overview of pharmacy education at KKU, focusing on the effects of having two pharmacy programmes at the same college.
Method: A qualitative prospective study design with a purposive sampling technique was utilised to address the study objectives. The study was conducted throughout the Asir region, at King Khalid University and in local hospitals from October 2016 to February 2017.
Results: The study revealed that establishing the Pharm.D. programme at KKU was a result of national and global changes in pharmacy education. Running two programmes has resulted in a surplus of pharmacists in the region, but the limited job opportunities in the private sector has led to an imbalance between supply and demand. Additionally, the increased number of pharmacy students made it difficult to secure training positions and added to the workload of hospital preceptors. Two programmes also increased the workload of academic staff, hence reducing the quality of teaching. Additionally, the B.Pharm. students felt inferior and less valuable than their Pharm.D. colleagues.
Conclusion: The study revealed that the operation of two programmes has several consequences on the institutional level, such as a high workload for academic staff and difficult feelings between the students of the two programmes. It also resulted in a surplus of graduates in a competitive market with limited employment opportunities, creating an imbalance between the supply and demand of pharmaceutical human resources. Phasing out the B.Pharm. programme would be the most suitable decision, based on an evaluation of the academic institution capabilities, number of training sites, and local job market.
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