The Pharmacy Law and Ethics Association (PLEA), founded in 1997 by Joy Wingfield, runs an annual essay competition which is open to all MPharm students in the UK and Ireland. The competition is now ten years old, having seen its first winner in 2009. PLEA is an independent, non-profit association for pharmacy professionals who are involved in law and ethics, and for lawyers, ethicists and others with an interest in pharmacy law and ethics.
Over the years, PLEA has received essay competition entries from most schools of pharmacy in the UK and Ireland, with a number of institutions incorporating the essay into their curriculum. Over the course of the competition to date, winners have come from 11 of these schools of pharmacy, showing diverse engagement and participation. The PLEA essay aims to both encourage students to think critically about law and ethics issues, and to support their writing and research skills. The overall winner receives £500, with two runners-up prizes of £250 each. The essay titles are disseminated through academic colleagues at the schools of pharmacy, with marking undertaken by academics and law colleagues.
Essay subjects are chosen to be topical, but also to highlight law and ethics debate. The first essay competition sought to query the arguments surrounding the right to know the genetic health of a sibling. Since then, topics have included the code of ethics and confidentiality breaches, e-cigarettes, informed consent, religious and moral beliefs, and competences of pharmacists in a changing world. The competition in the academic year 2018–2019 will require discussion about the regulation of pharmacy students with the topic ‘Should all pharmacy students be registered with the pharmacy regulator?’
The winners of the 2018–2019 essay will be invited to receive their prizes at the annual PLEA seminar in 2019, and the author of the winning essay will be invited to give a presentation at the seminar.
PLEA is pleased to support and encourage this ongoing initiative to ensure the pharmacists of the future can engage with law and ethics issues at the start of their careers.
If pharmacists would like to get involved with marking the essays, or any other aspects of PLEA, then please get in touch with us via the website at: www.plea.org.uk
Ricarda Micallef, senior lecturer in pharmacy practice, Kingston University; member, Executive Committee, PLEA
David Reissner, consultant, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP; chair, PLEA