Oluwatobiloba Rotimi Adeyinka is president of the Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), University of Lagos (UNILAG) Chapter. In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, the 500 level Lagos state born pharmacy student highlights his programmes for PANS-UNILAG within the next one year. He also suggests ways of improving the pharmacy internship programme and making industrial pharmacy more appealing to young pharmacists. Excerpts:
How did you decide to study Pharmacy?
By the grace of God, I made the decision to study pharmacy myself. I had always loved computers and all it stood for, but while I was in senior secondary school, I was never good at Further Mathematics but I was good at Chemistry. After secondary school it became a necessity to choose a course with a strong Chemistry foundation. After counselling, I chose Pharmacy, but after I was given admission, I discovered that Pharmacy was wider than I had imagined.
You recently emerged PANS-UNILAG president, what prompted your decision to be actively involved in PANS politics and what are your plans for pharmacy students?
In my first year as pharmacy student, the then PANS president paid us a visit in our class. I remembered being inspired by him and I wanted to one day in future inspire other students and get them to grasp the full scope of the profession. So I made a decision to be an active member of PANS.
My goal for pharmacy students this year is to get them to recognise how wide and varied Pharmacy can be, and to understand the importance of all the information being passed in the classroom.
Especially in the industrial setting, many students don’t actually know what it entails. The focus has been too much on sales representation, which is just one aspect of industrial pharmacy. This obviously has led to a decline in the numbers of students who have interest in drug production.
Tell us about PANS activities and programmes for 2016
This year, our association hopes to not only enlighten the students but also entertain and provide welfare for them. We have started this by welcoming the fresh students to pharmacy school and assisting them in all the ways our assistance was needed. We are now advancing the enlightenment goal by going on industrial visits to pharmaceutical companies. We will also be having our “Sports Week”, where students will be engaged in various sporting activities in both indoor and outdoor forms. Our flagship event for the year, however, will have to be our “Career Fair”, in which we plan to invite about 15 pharmaceutical establishments in hospital, community, industry and wholesale pharmacy. Wholesale pharmacy is something students don’t hear too often about; so it’s very important to have representatives there.
The establishments will be sending representatives who will be having one-on-one discussions with students and telling them about what their establishments do and sharing their experiences. They will also be conducting mini-interviews with the students as their prospective employers when they graduate or supervisors they will be going for industrial training. There will also be presentations by particular companies about their products and services to the various participating members. We will also be equipping our students with leadership and job acquisition skills in an empowerment programme. The whole year will be crowned with our annual PANS Dinner and Award Night, which, by the grace of God, will hold at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos. We hope to carry out these events with adequate sponsorship and support from various organisations.
What are the challenges facing pharmacy education and how can they be tackled?
The major problem is the insufficiency of resources to meet the needs of students. There are more students than the available resources. The Pharm.D programme which has taken firm root in North America has failed to take a hold in Nigeria. There are constant talks about it being incorporated into the current curriculum but that is yet to be seen.
The other issue is that Pharmacy is moving towards patient care with pharmaceutical care, which is very good; but drug production does not seem to be making any ground. In an industry where we don’t really have that many indigenous manufacturers, we are not really bringing up industry pioneers.
What can you say about the recently held Pharmacy Alumni Lecture and Induction Ceremony in your school?
The programme was very interesting. The guest speaker at the alumni lecture gave a very insightful lecture about community pharmacy practice and pharmacy practice in general. She placed emphasis on the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN)’s code of ethics, which I think every prospective pharmacist should be aware of. Also noteworthy was her message to the graduating students that crowding a particular arm of the profession, especially hospital pharmacy, and neglecting others, while seeking internship placement is not beneficial to the profession. This is also something we want to advocate to students especially the ones in final year. We aim to do this with the upcoming Career Fair programme.
What aspect of the pharmacy profession do you think the PSN president and other stakeholders need to address urgently?
In the area of industry pharmacy practice, PSN, NAIP and other stakeholders should look into why most young pharmacists are not showing interest in it. The common knowledge in school is that industries don’t pay well for internship, therefore hospital and community pharmacy get more pharmacists. Stakeholders should look into the remuneration of intern pharmacists in order to boost their interest. It creates a bad ecosystem when majority of pharmacists are specialising on selected areas of pharmacy practice. Also the need for pharmaceutical care should continue to be emphasised. The profession has a lot of areas that need to be made known to prospective pharmacists.
Where do you see PANS by the time you will be leaving office?
I see PANS as an association that will be taken seriously; one in which future administrations would find a suitable platform to inspire and develop students. Also, I want to see an association that students will be inspired and willing to take active roles in its activities. I want students to recognise the importance of PANS and the opportunities that lie in taking up roles. I also hope to see PANS organise more events that will involve different pharmaceutical companies. The assaciation should also be working hand-in-hand with the faculty management to achieve great objectives that will benefit students.
What is your message to pharmacy students in your school?
My fellow executives and I are willing and ready to bring about change in the way the profession is perceived, by striving to serve, help and entertain you with our programmes and various events. Pharmacy is an interesting profession that allows you to express the knowledge gained in various forms. You can be successful in any endeavour as long as you first believe you can achieve it and work hard towards it, with God on your side.
Students should embrace the pharmacy profession and realise that there is no wasted knowledge; all that is taught in the classrooms have useful applications. I also advocate having fun while in school, despite the fact that Pharmacy is tough and rigorous – as long as you can manage your time, all will be well. They should strive to do whatever that interests them, but they should put their studies first in whatever they do.