Pharmacy Internship: Challenges and way forward (2) By Sesan Kareem
As a follow-up to the previous discussion on the topic, here are additional factors that contribute to difficulty in getting internship placements by young pharmacy graduates apart from paucity of training centres and lack of proper co-ordination or policy.
- Lack of authority: It is a fact that, in many training centres, the head of pharmacy department has little or no authority on the numbers of pharmacy internees to be employed or, who to be employed. It is also a grim fact that the number of house officers employed, compared to the number of pharmacy internees in many of the training centres, particularly in the hospitals which absorbs over 70 per cent of the internees is unacceptable.
- Pharmacy graduates: Some pharmacy graduates are not flexible, based on their choices, in terms of training centres. They are not ready to go outside their comfort zones. I’ve met young pharmacy graduates who were adamant of doing their internship in hospital settings, despite getting offers in community pharmacies. They believed they would learn and earn more in the hospital. However, I’ve also met few exceptional young colleagues who did their internship as a supra without any payment for a whole year. I salute these young Nigerians.
The solutions to some of the challenges contributing to difficulty in getting internship placements by young pharmacy graduates are as follows.
- The Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) should mandate and continuously monitor ALL registered training centres to ensure that they employ pharmacy graduates. In addition, the Council should come up with a policy on the minimum numbers of internees each centre must employ, based on the number of bed spaces or facilities available. Furthermore, training centres that are not willing to follow the PCN guidelines should be sanctioned, then deregistered if need be; while those that are willing should be encouraged to do so. The PCN and the PSN must take a bold step to fix this challenge as a matter of urgency. Many young pharmacy graduates are frustrated about the profession before even starting the practice. No wonder, our young brains prefer to work for other major sectors of the economy rather than the health sector!
- The PCN with the support of the PSN must come up with a blueprint on how to absorb all pharmacy graduates for internship training, with the maximum of three months after they have been inducted into the profession. If the law profession can find a way of doing this for young lawyers, I sincerely believe that with proper planning and good strategy the pharmacy profession can duplicate it. All hands must be on deck that by December 2017 the Council will have a framework and working formula on how to train all inducted pharmacy graduates in Nigeria as soon as possible.
- It is time the pharmacy profession is given total right to take decisions on who, when and how to train their young pharmacists in the hospitals. The responsibility of conducting exams and employing internees should be the business of the pharmacy departments of all teaching and general hospitals. While pharmacy departments must at ALL times carry the hospital administrations along in the process. The onus is on the department to make decisions and take actions on matters concerning internship training. Pharmacy departments do not intervene in the employment of house officers. The case should be the same for internees, no double standard.
- Pharmacy graduates must be flexible and do their internship training at available training centres, as soon as possible. We are in the age of speed, and time is life. Instead of wasting months or years looking for what they truly want, I will suggest they should take up available opportunities; while looking out for what they truly desire. Thank God the PCN provides a window for an internee to transfer once during the training.
In conclusion, we must note that the future of any profession belongs to its young population. We must do ALL things humanly possible to empower, inspire, encourage and make the profession interesting and rewarding for our young colleagues. To achieve this, we need ACTION more than words, RESULTS more than promises and CHANGE more than wishes.
As men of honour we join hands.
I thank you.
God bless the Pharmacy Profession.
Pharm. Sesan Kareem is an international published author, powerful speaker and Chief Inspirational Officer of Mareek Image Concepts. www.sesankaeem.com