Pharmacy Education in UAE: Are we moving in the right direction?
Dr. Sherief Khalifa
Dr. Sherief Khalifa

Pharmacy education in the modern world focuses on providing students with knowledge, skills and attitude that enable the graduates to perform the role of the pharmacist as a health care professional, working side by side with rest of the healthcare team. Since the pharmacy profession today is about patient care and putting patients first, any modern pharmacy curriculum around the world will provide a balance of courses and experiences that enables the pharmacy graduate to fulfill the noble role of the pharmacist in providing the best possible patient care, as it relates to the safe and effective use of medicine.

A general belief is that pharmacist’s role beyond dispensing medication may be unnecessary and expensive and can be covered by physicians or nurses. Experience around the world has shown otherwise. The pharmacist role in patient care has been shown to reduce medication errors that often lead to serious health problems. It also leads to less patient suffering and a reduced social and economic burden where patients are expected to require less hospitalization, emergency room visits and hospital readmissions.

At Gulf Medical University, we are trending with ever so changing requirements of healthcare industry and believe in equipping our graduates with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to be job ready from the very first day and hit the ground running upon their graduation.

Hence, we have designed the only undergraduate Doctor of Pharmacy program in the country where the program features;

1) Learning how to access credible knowledge quickly, instead of memorizing

2) Evaluating information and determining its suitability for use in a specific case

3) Providing a solid foundation in biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences

4) Integration of pharmaceutical sciences into pharmacy practice

5) Practicing pharmacy skills in a simulated environment

6) Early exposure to clinical practice

7) Devoting more than 20% of the curriculum to experiential learning

8) Understanding, evaluating and performing pharmacy research

9) Using Team based learning (TBL) to enhance and reinforce learning in an exciting and interactive environment where students learn from each other

10) Inter-professional education where students from different healthcare disciplines engage in simulated and real problem solving exercises to prepare them for inter-professional collaborative practice after graduation.

The educational philosophy that brings about excellence in pharmacy education and subsequent improvement of the practice of the pharmacy profession comes naturally at GMU as it is a medical university that has its own hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in an academic health system. Clinicians in our healthcare facilities have teaching assignments with the College of Pharmacy. Pharmacy students learn from clinicians by engaging in a shadowing experience and then by performing skills under supervision. Professors from the College of Pharmacy are licensed pharmacists providing patient care in GMU associated healthcare facilities. This link is extremely crucial and valuable as it immerses pharmacy students in a rich learning environment where they work with academic clinicians and clinical academicians. We believe that this system and the natural learning environment provide the best experience for students to achieve the required competencies.

Whether the healthcare is being paid by the government, insurance company or a patient (out of pocket), spending money on pharmacy services will cut down on the overall cost of care. A recent survey conducted in United States, has shown that for every dollar spent on pharmacy services, there is a saving of three dollars.

It is about time that pharmacy educators, practitioner, regulators and healthcare providers meet and talk to each other on offering value added services to the communities. The outcome will reduce cost on healthcare payers and above all provide better healthcare to masses.

About the Author

Dr. Sherief Khalifa is currently Professor & Dean of the College of Pharmacy at GMU. He   received his BSc (Pharm) at King Saud University in 1986, and his PhD in Pharmacognosy at the University of Mississippi (USA) in 1994. Dr. Khalifa joined Suez Canal University (SCU) as an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy with linkage to the Biotechnology Research Centre. In 2007, he joined the Faculty of Pharmacy at Misr International University (MIU). Before leaving MIU to join Qatar University (QU), Dr. Khalifa was Professor and Head, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Clinical Pharmacy.

Dr. Khalifa was instrumental in establishing linkages between SCU/MIU/QU and USA-based institutions including the University of South Carolina, University of Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth University and others. He has a passion for advancing pharmacy practice in the Middle East and was responsible for introducing clinical pharmacy into the MIU curriculum and has continued this quest at QU and now in Gulf Medical University (GMU).


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