-Srinivas Reddy Bendaram
Pharmacy is a dynamic and ever-evolving field that plays a pivotal role in maintaining the global healthcare system. With the theme of “Pharmacy strengthening health systems” for this year’s World Pharmacists Day, it’s evident that the pharmacy profession is undergoing significant changes. In a post-COVID-19 world where health systems are recovering and adapting to new challenges, it’s crucial to recognize the vital role pharmacists play. In light of these transformations and the pressing need for skilled pharmacy professionals, it is time to consider the importance of pre-employment training for pharmacy students. This blog explores the significance of pre-employment training for pharmacy students, why it’s essential, and how it can be implemented effectively.
The Challenge of the Pharmacy Workforce
The proficiency and competency of the pharmacy workforce, including fresh graduates and working professionals, is a major concern in the healthcare industry. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a health system encompasses all organizations, people, and actions aimed at promoting, restoring, or maintaining health. Medicines and technologies are integral components of health systems, underscoring the critical role of pharmacy professionals in ensuring the availability and proper use of medications.
However, traditional pharmacy education often falls short in preparing students for the multifaceted demands of the profession. The curriculum tends to emphasize scientific aspects while neglecting technical skills, effective communication, and job-specific expertise. Graduates frequently lack a comprehensive understanding of the diverse career opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry and the necessary skills for each role.
The Case for Pre-Employment Training
To address these gaps, pre-employment training emerges as a potential solution. Pre-employment training offers several advantages:
- Skill Enhancement: It equips students with the essential skills required to excel in their chosen pharmacy careers.
- Career Clarity: Pre-employment training empowers students by providing insights into various career options, enabling informed decision-making.
- Timely Transition: By bridging the gap between education and employment, it reduces the time spent searching for a job, making graduates job-ready faster.
- Increased Employability: It creates a pool of skilled first-time employees ready to contribute effectively to the pharmaceutical industry.
The Role of Colleges
Colleges are the perfect setting for implementing pre-employment training for several reasons:
- Eager Candidates: College students are actively preparing to enter the job market, making them highly motivated to acquire the skills needed for their future careers.
- Skill Alignment: At this stage, students are keen to align their skill sets with their career aspirations.
- Right Environment: College campuses offer an ideal learning environment and can provide additional support and resources for training.
Transforming Vision into Reality
To bring the concept of pre-employment training to life, a well-structured project plan is essential:
The first step involves identifying educational institutions willing to participate in the initiative. Gaining support from college management is crucial for the project’s success.
Course Content Preparation:
Collaboration with industry experts and organizations is essential to determine the specific skill sets required for various pharmacy careers. This process includes collecting, reviewing, and finalizing course content tailored to aspiring professionals and prospective employers.
Creating awareness among students is vital. A comprehensive campaign should outline career options, their advantages and disadvantages, and the necessary skill sets. Understanding students’ career interests through surveys helps customize content and communication strategies.
This phase includes assessing students’ current understanding, implementing workshops or training programs, and conducting final assessments to measure training effectiveness.
The Expected Outcomes
The pre-employment training initiative offers several promising outcomes:
- Enhanced Career Clarity: Students gain a better understanding of available career options, enabling them to make informed choices.
- Skill Development: They acquire the skills needed for their chosen careers, increasing their employability.
- Faster Employment: The initiative shortens the time between education and employment, reducing job-hunting uncertainty.
- Expanded Job Opportunities: The industry benefits from a pool of skilled first-time employees ready to contribute positively.
Challenges and Future Opportunities
Implementing pre-employment training is not without its challenges, such as customization, securing institutional support, managing logistics, and balancing community expectations. Gaining industry support is also vital.
However, this initiative has the potential to evolve into a comprehensive pre-employment program for pharmacy students, further preparing them for their careers.
Current Status and Future Plans
As of now, we are actively engaging with multiple pharmacy colleges to identify potential partners for pre-employment training. Collaborating with institutions like Osmania University, Hyderabad, and its affiliated colleges, we are conducting baseline analyses of students’ needs. Once we have sufficient information, we will work with industry communities to create a tailored syllabus and assessment criteria, providing students with a competitive advantage in their job searches.
Pre-employment training for pharmacy professionals is a transformative concept that can bridge the gap between education and employment, empower students with essential skills, and elevate the pharmacy industry. As the industry continues to evolve, so should our approach to preparing the next generation of pharmacy experts. Together, we can strengthen the healthcare system and ensure the availability of competent pharmacy professionals for the challenges ahead.
Author Srinivas Reddy Bendaram is a seasoned pharmacist with diverse experience spanning pharmaceutical manufacturing, academia, community and hospital pharmacies, supply chain management, and advisory consultancy in global healthcare.