On 30 April 2013, the Sussex Local Practice Forum, in association with the University of Brighton, hosted a poster competition. The competition involved the selection of six projects submitted by us — fourth year MPharm students at the University of Brighton — and then presented to a judging panel, university staff and our peers. It was an important event because it provided us with a venue to showcase the projects that we had been working on diligently for the past eight months.
The projects covered a range of topics that have the potential to influence our profession in community, hospital and industry. For the students that were shortlisted, it was an exciting experience to be able to stand at the front of a lecture theatre and deliver a presentation and for most it was our first time speaking in front of a large audience.
However, our passion, professionalism and hardworking nature enabled us to deliver our exciting findings. Below is a brief description of some of the finalists’ projects.
Namratha Kuruvilla looked into how confident community pharmacists are about their knowledge on their dispensing practices of oral anticancer therapies. A key finding was that community pharmacists in Brighton and Hove did feel confident dispensing oral anticancer medicines and counselling patients on them.
Parminder Banwait’s project consisted of an audit assessing the adherence to a patient group direction for the supply of warfarin when initiating treatment in a pharmacist-led anticoagulation clinic at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. The results show that there is a high level of adherence to the PGD and that a supply in this way is safe. Further work is required to investigate the time to therapeutic response. There is currently a lack of published data on the use of PGDs in practice; however, this audit demonstrated that pharmacists’ clinical skills can be utilised in the clinical setting to provide a safe and timely service for the benefit of patients.
Type 1 diabetes
Samina Idris (third place winner) evaluated the effects of immunotherapy on beta cell function to treat the new onset of type 1 diabetes and compared this to the current insulin therapy by carrying out a metaanalysis. The results from the meta-analysis revealed the use of immune based therapy had encouraging effects on ion metabolic control, such as HbA1c levels and insulin dose requirements. Therefore, the immune therapy improved beta cell function in type 1 diabetics and extended the honeymoon period. Ms Idris believed her project was relevant to pharmacy practice because type 1 diabetes mellitus is an increasing problem and the prevalence of the disease is steadily on the rise worldwide.
Emily Knight (second place winner) chose the topic of contraception because, despite reductions in unintended pregnancy due to the work being conducted by health care professionals all over Britain, the unwanted pregnancy rate remains high. Her aim was to find out about contraceptive use and, in particular, people’s knowledge of emergency contraception. She found that over 50 per cent of University of Brighton students had used emergency contraception, a higher finding than in similar studies. However, in depth knowledge was lacking in some participants and this could be an area for pharmacists to provide information. In terms of EHC service provision, only 50 per cent of focus group participants were satisfied with the service they received, highlighting a potential area for continuing professional development or extra training for some pharmacists.
Antipsychotic-medicated cell damage
Hitesh Lad (first place winner) reported a project that focused on antipsychotic mediated beta-cell damage and whether vitamin D could provide a protective effect. MIN6 cells were used in vitro to assess the effects of aripiprazole and clozapine on betacells. Clozapine, known to produce an increase in the incidence of diabetes, had a detrimental effect on the growth of MIN6 cells. Aripiprazole, unlike clozapine, was shown to produce no damaging effects on beta-cells. Clozapine-induced damage to MIN6 beta-cells can be ameliorated through co-treatment with vitamin D. These findings may have clinical significance, both for the treatment and management of potential betacell damaging effects induced by clozapine. Aripiprazole appears to be more beta-cell “friendly” and needs further investigation.
Claire May, senior lecturer at the school of pharmacy, summarised the event saying: “We all hope to see the continuation of events like this in the future becasue they really showcase the brilliance and creativity of the pharmacists of tomorrow. Together we can strive to understand the problems within hospital, industry, and community and work with other health care professionals to develop strategies to enhance the care we provide to our patients.”
On behalf of the students, we thank the Sussex LPF and the University of Brighton for giving us this opportunity and this forum to present our projects. We are grateful for the experience this has provided us both in terms of the skills gained and in the ability to network with established members within our profession. LPFs are vital for students in terms of support and development.
Contributed by Hitesh Lad, Emily Knight, Namratha Kuruvilla, Samina Idris, Damilola Onayade and Parminder Banwait, fourth year MPharm students at the University of Brighton