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Advancing Pharmacy Practice in Nigeria via Preceptorship

Advancing Pharmacy Practice in Nigeria via PreceptorshipThe Pharmacy profession has been dramatically changed from drug oriented to patient oriented profession around the world. The Pharmacist has now become a key member of the multi-disciplinary health team. For instance, pharmacists are now involved in patient care by attending ward round with physicians, providing drug information, reviewing patient files and educating patients about their medications, being actively involved in drug selection and tailoring treatment plan on individual basis, at least in the developed societies.

Interestingly, a number of developing countries are embracing this emerging trend in the pharmacy profession because of its potentials in advancing the quality of lives of people on one hand, and its capacity to enhance the manpower needs of nations in the health sector on the other.

India and Pakistan have introduced Pharm D (Doctor of Pharmacy) programme in the university education curricular of both countries, with the objective of producing clinically oriented pharmacists, with rigorous training in clinical aspects of providing pharmaceutical care to patients. And in Nigeria, the Pharm D programme received approval of the Nigeria Universities Commission (NUC), the university education watchdog, in the country only last year. However, at different fora stakeholders in the pharmacy profession had prior to the approval for the implementation of Pharm D in Nigerian universities canvassed for the recognition of the benefits inherent in the patient -centred approach in healthcare delivery in the country, which clinical pharmacy practice is designed to achieve.

Just as the country is settling down to digest the full import of the new lexicon in the pharmacy profession in the country, a patriotic Nigerian based in the United States, Dr. Kate Okpukpara, Clinical Pharmacist with Atlanta Medical Centre and an adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor at Mercer University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, USA, is spearheading a rescue mission for young pharmacists. This is aimed at acquainting them with the new trends evolving in the pharmacy profession globally.

Recently she facilitated an International Pharmacy Preceptor Development Workshop which took place at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu. An alumnus of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka, (UNN), Dr. Okpukpara explained that training or workshop is an essential ingredient in bridging the gap in terms of clinical skills that pharmacists in the country do not possess to practice pharmaceutical care effectively.

Speaking with PharmaTimes in an interview she said: “I was trained at UNN as a pharmacist. But I later travelled to the U.S. While in the U.S I realised there is a gap in our education back home, especially in respect of pharmacists and their clinical skills/training. In the old curriculum, we did not give enough emphasis to clinical training which limited our ability to practice in the hospital. So, I approached Dr. Teresa Pounds at the medical centre in Atlanta as well as other resource persons to come and help me bridge the gap in terms of the clinical skills/training of pharmacists back home”. Commenting on the expanded role of the pharmacists especially as it relates to quality of interactions, a key component in patient retention and medication adherence, Dr. Okpukpara said pharmacists can play the role of advocate for patients in drug therapy.

According to her “Pharmacists are drug experts who can be advocates for the patients in drug therapy. Most especially, pharmacists can intervene to correct any gap in pharmacotherapy. Speaking on Critical Care and Nutrition, Dr. Teresa Pounds, Clinical Pharmacy Manager Wellstar Atlanta medical centre, US, stressed on the objective of the workshop and why there should be collaboration among the different health care professions in the country. “The objective of this programme is to collaborate with stakeholders and pharmacists in order to share the best practices when it comes to how we teach our students to be more clinically involved in a patient-centred pharmaceutical care model,” she said.

The workshop hosted at UNTH, which held under the auspices of the department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacy Management of UNN, was co-sponsored by Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme (ADP), and UNN-USA Alumni & Friends. The objective of the programme according to the organisers include: review of the rotation sites at UNTH for UNN students, development of in-patient pharmacy practice rotation, development of medication therapy rotation, and development of critical care/ nutrition rotation. UNTH pharmacists are very enthusiastic and uniquely positioned to provide UNN with these rotations for the students at UNN, who will be transitioning to the Doctor of Pharmacy programme.

The workshop attracted preceptors with expertise in different aspects of pharmacy practice from the US, authorities in the clinical pharmacy faculty of some Nigerian universities, pharmacy students, and UNTH community and surrounding hospitals and pharmacies. Indeed the workshop provided an opportunity for pharmacy graduates and students to discover emerging trends in the pharmacy profession, and gain an understanding of preceptorship and how it enhances the capacity of pharmacists in the effective discharge of their professional responsibilities.

One of the participants, Ebuka Maduabuchukwu, final year pharmacist student from UNN said “The workshop has helped me to better understand preceptorship. I have gained more insight on how preceptorship is done in the US and over here in the country. I think it will go a long way to guide me in the profession.”


By Gabriel Ifinnwa

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