Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research
Received: February 2002
Accepted: July 2002
Revision of Iranian pharmacy education, an idea or a necessity?
Human resources development in society or organization is a necessity to secure progress. Without such development societies or organizations fail to achieve their objectives. Human resources development is a three-stage measure to meet the requirements of each society or organization. These three stages are: a) planning and programming: at this stage qualitative and quantitative needs are determined; b) education and training: this stage sees human resources shape up to meet needs and to secure stated goals; c) implementation and evaluation: at this stage trained individuals are given assignments in the society. Their performance is under supervision and evaluation and they may receive training if necessary.
Looking at pharmacy education as part of an overall human resources development makes you wonder whether education system is in line with this three-stage plan or not. This article aims to encourage policy makers to launch a probe to see whether or not pharmacy education in Iran is in line with the objectives associated with development of human resources. Can Iranian pharmacists who are fresh out of university meet social demands?
History of pharmacy education in Iran
Foundation of Dar-uL Fonoon (house of skills, polytechnics) in Tehran almost 150 years ago saw modern training emerge. Dar-uL fonoon hired an Austrian pharmacist to launch its pharmacy education. In 1922, a pharmacy department was set up at the school of medicine. In 1926, the first group of Iranian students who had completed pharmacy programs in France returned home. That ushered in introduction of the French method that featured 90-credit courses to be completed in 3 years. In 1939 the number of credits to be taken in a 4-years program jumped to 140. Twelve years later another development came around. The number of years rose to five. Under new arrangements all students were required to go through the 4-years program. Only those with better averages could take an extra one-year of courses to prepare a dissertation and secure a doctorate degree in pharmacy.
During all these years pharmacy programs were offered at the medical faculty. In 1956 a pharmacy faculty independent of the medical faculty came into being. In the 17 years that followed the formation of the pharmacy school, slight changes were introduced. The French method was replaced by the French one, and each academic year was turned into two semesters. In 1973, regulations offered in two semesters during each academic year and students would get their doctorate degree after writing theses and taking an oath.
What draws the attention of a person as far as developments in the education system are concerned is an increase or decreases the credit hours of a program. Unfortunately these changes have taken no account of social needs or the role that pharmacists should play in the society after graduation. There has been no overhaul in the pharmacy education system in Iran since 1973. Only in recent years, have a number of professors at pharmacy faculties across the nation taken measures to reform pharmacy education in line with social needs, a suitable definition of who a pharmacist is and objectives of pharmacy education as part of a national plan to develop human resources.
Expectation from pharmacy education
Introduction of drastic economic, social and cultural changes of late have prompted governments to focus their efforts on development and better living conditions for citizenry. This has left a major impact on the health care system and the role of people who are involved in this system. Consequently, pharmacists have a more active role to play. For instance they have to formulate new medication, offer better clinical services and produce radioactive drugs and biological products. Recent developments have given pharmacists a more active role to play in the health care system. Naturally the pharmacy education system should adapt itself to the new atmosphere to be able to train pharmacists who can take care of tasks required in the modern health system. Pharmacy education is a dynamic process, which should make optional use of science and technology to train pharmacists who can play an active role in the national health care system. They should be a reliable source for physicians, nurses and patients. Pharmaceutical care can be a lofty goal of pharmacy education to shed the traditional responsibility of pharmacists, that is dispensing the prescriptions, and turn them into a cornerstone of the heath system. That doctors prescribe and pharmacists dispense their prescription is now a thing of the past. The medical science has made a lot of headway. Physicians can no longer take care of all responsibilities associated with medicine by them. The health system now necessitates rational prescription rather than blind prescription. Pharmacists are now required to look into legal and health-related aspects of prescription. Besides they should see whether or not the items on a prescription are proportionate to one another.
So pharmacists who leave pharmacy schools should meet the requirements of the national plan to develop human resources and those of health care system. In addition they need to have ability to take care of a number of responsibilities such as:
Besides pharmacists should be faithful and good-natured and keep the patients? secrets. To secure such features, a 2 or 3-credit courses is by far less than what is needed. The whole education system should be devised in a way to instill the idea of serving the patients and promoting the health system into students from the very first moment they are admitted. To fulfill such an objective good manners are of paramount importance. Ethical features should be coupled with technical ability to meet pharmacy education needs. In fact efforts to create such ability should be the hallmark of the pharmacy education across the nation.
A quick look at the curriculum of pharmacy education progress and pharmaceutical services in Iran shows the education is not in line with social needs. So a serious scientific review of the pharmacy education, including the system and its curriculum is not a mere idea but a vital necessity. We should design a comprehensive curriculum to meet the changing national health care environment. The primary objective of the pharmaceutical doctorate program should be to train individuals who provide and promote excellent inpatient and outpatient-focused care base. The fact that medical education and the health system are run by a single management in Iran (ministry of health and medical education) provide us with a golden opportunity to bring pharmacy education into line with social needs and train pharmacists capable of rendering services at home, rural, and urban levels.