As curriculum is one of the most important tools in helping students achieve the desired outcomes of any course, its creation, standardisation and implementation requires utmost attention. This aspect acquires still larger dimensions when it pertains to a profession like pharmacy that not only involves financial, operational, and regulatory risks but also that to the human life.
Proficiency in pharmacy requires integration of the knowledge of various aspects of chemistry, human biology, and engineering technology to achieve the optimum drug treatments. To add to this clear cut dichotomy of clinical and industrial aspects, recently there has been an emergence of non-traditional career choices like regulatory affairs, content writing, advertising, insurance sector, etc.
These, in turn widen the areas in which the graduates are expected to excel. The release of the new standardised undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum by the Pharmacy Council of India at this juncture, therefore, has been welcomed by all the stake holders. Implementation of a uniform syllabus and evaluation pattern for all such courses would ensure that students will acquire the same theoretical/practical knowledge with similar skill sets.
The new syllabus is more clinically oriented, which will help to fit in the newly generated career options. Subjects of communication skills have been added at the entry level to meet the professional expectations in the current scenario.
Inclusion of electives in the last semester has rendered some flexibility to the syllabus and the students can decide a pathway as per their aspirations.
Provision of a practice school in the seventh semester, allows the institutes to collaborate with hospitals/ industries for real life exposure.
Emphasis has been laid on the overall development of the students and credits have been provided for extracurricular activities. Master's in pharmacy syllabus is clearly distinct from the undergraduate syllabus and due care has been taken to avoid any duplication of the topics.
In a unique initiative, credits have been given for attending conference sessions at such level. The syllabus also provides scope for more interaction of students with their mentors in the form of seminars, tutorials, discussion platforms, etc.
With a few more progressive steps towards a little higher flexibility, load reduction in initial semester course and some leverage to international students, the uniform implementation of syllabus and evaluation pattern will definitely help in maximising the roles and scope of pharmacists to not only cater to industry but also deliver patient-centred primary care and public health.
(The writer is senior dean, faculty of applied medical science, lovely professional university)