I was disappointed to read the unhelpful and divisive report in The Pharmaceutical Journal (online, 9 September 2014) suggesting that I favour the removal of science from the undergraduate pharmacy programme. Nothing could be further from the truth. In response to a question at the RPS conference on how I would change the undergraduate pharmacy degree I was quoted as saying “I would get rid of the science”. What I actually said was “I would get rid of loads of the science” [correction published online, 15 September 2014]. I sought to explain that I would remove those elements of science curriculum that do not integrate and support modern pharmacy practice.
There is nothing controversial in this view — the General Pharmaceutical Council standards for the initial training of pharmacists are in direct agreement with this. Further, it is my opinion that, without a robust and detailed foundation in science, it would be impossible for pharmacists to manage the increasingly complex pharmaceutical care issues presented by patients or respond to the dynamic challenges in healthcare we continue to experience effectively.
Indeed, as the roles and responsibilities of pharmacists continue to progress routinely to include activities such as independent prescribing and pharmacist-led clinics, the requirement for a strong foundation in science at undergraduate level will need to be enhanced, not eroded. It would be ludicrous to suggest that we should remove science from the pharmacy programme — after all what would be left? A profession that I certainly would not want to be a part of.
Cardiff School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences