As with almost every programme of study, the long vacations are usually reserved for students to be attached to various institutions to practicalize their knowledge.
The KNUST pharm D syllabus details an internship structure for the doctor of pharmacy students. This is referred to as “Experiential training”.
There is the basic experiential training and the advanced experiential training. The advanced experiential training is reserved for the final year of the doctor of Pharmacy programme in KNUST.
What is the internship about?
Basically, the internship involves pharmacy students being attached to various health institutions to get some practical or on-the-job experience. Unlike other programmes where the students are responsible for getting themselves an internship placement, the doctor of pharmacy programme at KNUST has a special laid out process for internships.
This means that you don’t choose which type of institution (community pharmacy, hospital, industry etc) to go to. Based on the year you are in, the school decides which of these types of institutions you should get attached to.
The faculty of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences of KNUST will therefore give students official letters to be submitted to heads of the various institutions in order for them to be accepted to undertake their experiential vacation training.
Is it compulsory?
Yes, it is actually compulsory for every pharmacy student to engage in an experiential vacation training or internship during their long vacation break.
As such, there is some form of assessments and reports that students will present at the end of their internships.
What is the structure of the internship?
Here is the structure for the doctor of pharmacy internship or experiential vacation training;
- First year: Introduction to community pharmacy practice
- Second year: Introduction to hospital pharmacy practice and nursing
- Third year: Hospital practice and laboratory studies
- Fourth year: Community pharmacy practice or industrial pharmacy practice
- Fifth year: Community pharmacy practice
In first year, the doctor of pharmacy student is attached to a community pharmacy where they will be introduced to all the activities that go on in the pharmacy.
In second year, they are expected to learn about nursing practices in the hospital for a minimum of two (2) weeks. This is to help the pharmacist appreciate the various things that nurses do in the hospital. Since a pharmacist is required to work with other health professionals (known as partnership working), this is a key aspect of developing pharmacy students wholestically for the work ahead of them.
They will also have to do at least four (4) weeks of pharmacy practice in the hospital. So, this is where the student is introduced to all the things pharmacists do in the hospital.
In third year, the pharmacy student is also expected to undertake at least two (2) weeks of laboratory practice in the hospital. This is then followed by at least 4 weeks of clinical pharmacy practice in the hospital.
This means that the third year pharmacy student is expected to be stationed at a ward in the hospital to learn how the clinical practice of pharmacy is like.
In fourth year, the student is at liberty to choose between community pharmacy practice and industrial pharmacy practice. Because there are a limited number of industries in Ghana, only a few pharmacy students will have that opportunity.
For the fifth year, the student is required to undertake a short period of community pharmacy practice. After this particular internship, students are required to present a report which will be submitted to pharmacy council as part of the prerequisites for qualifying as a registered pharmacist in Ghana.
Will I get paid for the internship?
There is no hard and fast rule about payment for interns during their experiential vacation training. Whether you are paid or not depends on the discretion of your preceptor. Some pharmacies and hospitals have a no pay policy for attachees (students) and hence may not pay you anything.
Other institutions also pay you based on your commitment and how helpful you were to them. You may therefore get paid or not. It all depends on the institution you find yourself in and your contributions to the work done during that period.
What is expected of me as an intern?
As an intern or an attachment student, you are expected to abide by all the rules and regulations in the institution you are attached to.
You are also expected to report to work with your objectives as provided in your letter of introduction and ensure to achieve those objectives with the help of your preceptors.
How does the school assess me on this internship?
The school is also going to assess your performance in a number of ways. Lecturers acting as supervisors will be sent around to pay your institution a visit and will be ready to score your performances when they visit.
Your preceptors will also be provided assessment forms to assess you on completion of your vacation training.
Finally, you will have to submit an official report on your internship based on specifications provided by the faculty.
How do I know where to offer my internship?
Based on the year in which you are, you will know which type of institution to look for. Check out the structure for internships mentioned earlier in this post for the type of institution to choose.
The school has a number of accredited institutions, but to ensure your convenience since the training will be during the vacation, you are allowed to choose where you want to work.
For instance, if you are supposed to be attached to a community pharmacy, you can submit the name of a pharmacy and the contact of the person in charge to the coordinator for experiential training when the time is due.
The person will be contacted and the necessary arrangements made for you to be posted there.