The next generation of pharmacists is being prescribed a new course at Kingston University. The Master of Pharmacy programme, which will be run jointly by the University and St George’s Hospital Medical School, has been accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB). Forty-five students will begin the four-year degree in September.
Head of the Department of Pharmacy Professor John Brown said that the course would help address an acute shortage of qualified pharmacists in the United Kingdom. “There are many interesting openings for pharmacists, mostly in hospital pharmacy departments and community pharmacies, but also in drug development and manufacture within the pharmaceutical industry,” he said. “The challenges faced by pharmacists are likely to increase as they begin to take on a more prominent role in healthcare, for example prescribing drugs. Pharmacy can be a financially rewarding career too.”
The Kingston pharmacy degree is one of only a handful of similar courses in the south of the country. Students will learn about the formulation, supply and monitoring of medicines for the treatment and prevention of disease. “They will gain first-hand experience of the pharmacist’s role through regular visits to both hospital and community pharmacies. As the course develops, they will undertake week-long placements where they will use the skills acquired to interact with patients, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals,” Professor Brown explained.
Staff from the Schools of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences and Life Sciences will teach four main subjects – pharmaceutical and biological chemistry, physiology and pharmacology, pharmaceutical technology, and professional practice. To ensure the material covered in the professional and clinical aspects of the course is relevant and up to date, some modules will be taught by practising pharmacists. Staff from St George’s Hospital NHS Trust, Kingston Hospital NHS Trust, Moss Pharmacy, the Day Lewis Pharmacy Group and Lloydspharmacy will lend their expertise through laboratory and workshop-based training.
Three specialist laboratories are being equipped to provide teaching in pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical technology from September, and aseptic dispensing – the preparation of sterile drugs and nutrient solutions – from 2005. To become qualified pharmacists, graduates will have to undergo a further year of pre-registration training before passing the RPSGB’s professional registration exam. Next year there will be 70 places available on the Kingston pharmacy degree.