“Skills and competencies are the differentiator between a high functioning and a mediocre team. In order to build efficient and high performance teams then we need competent people.”
Yesterday I had the opportunity to represent my employer in reviewing curriculum for Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) in my alma mater, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT). Having graduated from the school, transitioned into work and pushing through in my pursuit for professional development I didn’t know such an opportunity would come across. This isn’t because I’m not inclined to the furtherance of quality education especially in the pharmacy space. To the contrary, this is a passion in me and in my undergraduate project, I had my project focused on assessing whether our training was responsive to market demands at the time. Looking back, the program made me the professional I am which meant it was suited to produce competent professionals aligned to what were considered practice areas but this has been changing over time. As I write this, the conventional practice of pharmacists as most people perceive of being behind a counter is long gone. Pharmacists are venturing into new areas of practice and broadening their level of impact. This then makes it critical that the training for pharmacy is set to align with these practice trends in order to service the market needs. This was the basis upon which the School of Pharmacy (SOPHARM) called upon stakeholders including alumni to share insights based on experiences both as students and professionals in practice.
Reflecting on the findings of my undergraduate study, I am more convinced that the corporate market and practicing professionals have a huge role in education and training of junior professionals. This is based on the fact that training is supposed to equip students with skills to be able to perform certain tasks and apply professional judgement in the performance of such duties. This makes it imperative that they are appraised of what those duties they are to perform are, the skills associated with the same and then be enabled to apply the same skills when they transition from school. This is one critical feature that was brought out during the review which I’m positive when adopted and put to practice is key in shaping the future of pharmacy practice in the country.
Putting these to perspective, what then is it that we can all do to ensure we equip the next generation of experts & professionals with the skills & competencies they need in the job market?
- Guest Lectures – as a professional in practice you are in touch with the market trends, practice demands and have moved a step ahead of the rest. It is therefore important for you to share some of these insights with the current students and faculty through guest lectures. This helps to appraise students of the current practice environment so that they are ready for what’s to come in the next phase while at the same time exposing the faculty to some of these trends which they then have a chance to contextualize in their trainings. This will be carried forward.
- Mentorship Programs – adoption of a set of students to mentor in the course of your practice is one critical way that we can enable our juniors to gain hands-on-skills which will enable them perform better when they finally transition into practice. It can be a way to get an extra pair of hands into your place of work while at the same time impacting skills. This is one concept that I found beneficial with work-study programs that were instituted in the university even though they were limited in number. Engaging the corporate market to participate in such are critical ways to uplift the institutions while equipping the next generation of professionals.
- Participation in Stakeholder Forums – by participating in stakeholder forums such as the curriculum review, we bring the foresight of what we envision for the future of practice, current trends and the pain points that we are witnessing in practice. Adoption of these in education and training of juniors gives them the advantage they might not have had if at all you didn’t take part in these forums.
- Internship & Attachment Programs – as a professional in practice whether in formal or informal employment, you have worthwhile experience in that area of work which may prove invaluable to another young person. By offering young people an opportunity to work with you either for their attachment or internship, they get to experience the actual practice environment, hone skills and most importantly nurture interest into the specific fields they would be inclined to pursue in the long term.
I believe that every individual has an inclination towards their field of practice/profession and with this if we could leverage on this for the advancement of the profession and industry by nurturing future generations, we stand a chance to witness the successes we so wish for. It’s our way to pay it forward with hope and love that we see it blossom to a future we so aspire to get to. As you go about your business, ask yourself how you can contribute to this cause and as you do that, we at Ryculture Health and Social Innovation are looking for mentors to facilitate a series of mentorships sessions in efforts to empower the next generation of young professionals. If you are interested, please send us an email to: email@example.com and we’ll follow up with you.