Pharmacy scheme offers real-life learning

From left - Professor Jane Portlock, pharmacy owner Baldev Laly, senior pharmacy lecturer Mike Leech, vice-chancellor Professor Graham Gilbraith, council leader Donna Jones, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Ash Soni, and Minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois.

From left – Professor Jane Portlock, pharmacy owner Baldev Laly, senior pharmacy lecturer Mike Leech, vice-chancellor Professor Graham Gilbraith, council leader Donna Jones, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Ash Soni, and Minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois. Pictures: Habibur Rahman

Pharmacy students at the University of Portsmouth are to work regularly with real patients in a new community partnership which is only the second of its kind in the country.

The Healthy Living Pharmacy Live initiative was given a special launch event yesterday, attended by Minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois, leader of Portsmouth City Council Donna Jones, and President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Ash Soni.

Minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois has his blood pressure taken by student Ryan Ferbrache

Minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois has his blood pressure taken by student Ryan Ferbrache.

The University has joined forces with Lalys Pharmacy, in Guildhall Walk, in an initiative designed to put academic theory into practice through work experience sessions for every student in every year of their course.

All 550 students across the four-year master’s degree course will take part in the scheme – developed with University College London, which pioneered the first initiative – which will allow them to advise and support patients in the pharmacy and use specially adapted rooms as a learning space.

Guests were welcomed by Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith, who said the partnership was yet another example of the University embedding practical real-life learning in its courses.

“We are absolutely committed to excellent academic study, but also academic study put into practice,” he said.

“This excellent partnership will help give our pharmacy students the skills they need to work with real patients.”

In a speech to guests, Mr Soni – himself a former University of Portsmouth student – said it was “an honour and a pleasure” to be at the launch.

He added: “This is a valuable project for both the students and the local population. It will really help the students – who I think of as training professionals – understand what a key role they are going to play as pharmacists.”

Closely supervised by registered pharmacists at all times, students will advise patients on medicines to treat minor ailments, provide support for patients with long-term conditions, and observe services such as medicine reviews and health checks.

They will also have access to two consulting rooms fitted with cameras, so that their interactions with consenting patients can be recorded and reviewed.

Currently students have limited placement opportunities – with the longest being one week in the third year – but the partnership will increase exposure to patients through six ‘workshop’ sessions at the pharmacy for every student each academic year.

About 25 students can be accommodated in the premises at any one time, with a quarter working in the pharmacy while the remainder are in the learning space, where they use practice equipment for procedures such as testing blood pressure and checking for ear infections and respiratory conditions.

Minister for Portsmouth Mark Francois commented: “Top-class education is key to Portsmouth’s future jobs, growth and prosperity, so it’s great to see this new state-of-the-art pharmacy school in the heart of the city. The University of Portsmouth’s impressive new facility will provide a big boost to its learning offer and will help attract the very best student minds from across the country.”

Guests try out a lung monitoring machine at the pharmacy launch.

Guests try out a lung monitoring machine at the pharmacy launch.

Also present at the launch event was pharmacy owner Baldev Laly. He said: “I’m coming to the end of my career and I felt it was really important to give something back. The University is a very important part of the city, and this will help the students as well as benefiting Portsmouth itself.”

Following the launch, Mr Soni gave a lecture entitled Helping Portsmouth to Health – how pharmacists contribute to your wellbeing, as part of the University’s regular series of free public lectures.

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