Renovating pharmacy education at the time of the Covid-19 pandemic: an urgent priority

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Dr Saurabh Kumar Banerjee, Dean and Associate Professor at School of Pharmaceutical Management, IIHMR University, Jaipur, writes on the need to reimagine pharmacy education in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of minds to think. This famous quote from Albert Einstein emphasizes that the essence of education does not lie only in theoretical knowledge of textbooks, but conditions minds to think in innovative ways. The Covid-19 pandemic has indeed revived the quote once again and forced educators around the world to reinvent the role of education in controlling a pandemic of this magnitude that has devastated the entire world.

In the broader context of education, pharmacy education provides the most vital skills, which have enormous potential to serve vulnerable society suffering from the atrocities of the Covid-19 pandemic. This document is an attempt to suggest some possible avenues through which institutes of pharmacy can contribute to building a responsible fleet of pharmacy professionals dedicated to managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Role of pharmacy institutes in preparing for Covid-19

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The role of institutes of pharmacy and those engaged in the profession of pharmacy is very important in terms of preparing to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude and could be briefly summarized as shown in the figure below:

Efforts should be made by institutes of pharmacy and pharmacy education regulatory bodies to instill the points mentioned below in the academic program / elective courses / practical training / certificate programs, so that students pursuing various pharmacy programs (D Pharm, B Pharm, M Pharm, Pharm D, MBA Pharmaceutical Management) may understand the policies and regulations established by the GOI and may contribute through their departments to the control of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Important suggestions are listed:

1. Facilitate information on Covid-19 and Covid-19 vaccines: The academic structure of UG / PG Pharmacy Colleges should include a provision providing relevant information on Covid-19 disease and Covid-19 vaccines which are being deployed in India. The various components could include:

a) Symptoms of Covid-19

b) How is Covid-19 transmitted

c) Information on the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines

d) Where could the public access Covid-19 vaccines

e) Characteristics of CO-WIN applications

f) Registration procedure for vaccination

g) Post-vaccination care and support

2. Conduct research on vaccine reluctance: Reluctance to vaccinate is a reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated by certain groups of people in society even when they have access to life-saving vaccines. The World Health Organization has identified vaccine reluctance as one of the main threats to global health. There could be various underlying factors that people are not participating in the vaccination campaign and this could be the area of ​​research for many PG pharmacy courses in particular (M Pharm, D Pharm, MBA Pharmaceutical Management). Research at specific community levels on vaccine reluctance could provide valuable information for understanding the factors facilitating and hindering anti-vaccine vaccination.

3. Act as a catalyst to promote awareness of appropriate Covid behaviors (CABs): Pharmacy institutions have a huge role in educating and training UG / PG students on appropriate Covid (CAB) behaviors. Pharmacy students, in turn, can educate the general public about the importance of appropriate Covid behaviors (CABs) that could prevent community transmission and contribute to the personal safety of individuals. Important components of Appropriate Covid Behaviors (CAB) could be:

a) Appropriate use of masks

b) Importance of hand washing with soap and the use of disinfectants

c) Importance of social distancing

d) Importance of self-isolation and isolation guidelines

e) Importance of rapid diagnostic tests

4. Bringing together pharmacy institutes with diagnostic industries: It is a well accepted fact that proper treatments begin with an accurate diagnosis and the Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase in the diagnostic industry leading to an influx of various detection kits for the detection of the Covid-19 virus. . Detection kits vary from rapid antigen test kits to antibody test kits and their development, from R&D to commercialization in the market, requires a solid and in-depth understanding of the diagnostic and diagnostic kit industry. diagnostic. Pharmacy institutes can forge links with the diagnostic industry and explore possibilities of offering internships and project work to pharmacy students.

5. Motivate pharmacy students to follow the online training programs developed by WHO: The World Health Organization has developed a series of online training programs focused on Covid-19 to increase knowledge and train healthcare professionals. Online training programs are accessible on the website at https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novelcoronavirus-2019/training/onlinetraining.

Online training is available with various titles such as COVID-19 vaccination training for health workers, advice on mask use in the context of COVID-19, infection prevention and control (IPC ) for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the clinical management of patients with COVID-19 – General considerations. Pharmacy institutes should motivate UG / PG students to take these free online training programs which will motivate students to participate in covid-19 pandemic preparedness.

6. Conduct of Practical Training for UG Students in Industries Producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a dramatic increase in demand for PPE kits which include gloves, gowns, shoe covers, masks, eye protection devices, face shields, etc. strategies to meet increasing production demands to protect healthcare workers from the threat of the Covid-19 virus. This opportunity could be explored by institutes of pharmacy to provide hands-on training in the production and quality assurance of PPE for UG students, especially B Pharm.

It is high time to review the current structure of pharmacy education in the context of pandemic preparedness and to reflect on the role of pharmacy institutes in building a fleet of pharmacy professionals serving the millions of people who are fighting the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

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