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Pharmacy is one of the most respected professions worldwide, and one that has undergone tremendous developments over the years. The pharmacist’s role has changed from being product oriented to being patient oriented. This is due to the fact that pharmacists are experts in medicines, in respect to which they advise both patients and physicians regarding the appropriate use of both prescribed and over the counter drugs. In 1997, the World Health Organization pointed out the expanded role of pharmacists in the healthcare team, and coined the term “Seven Stars Pharmacist, ” referring to the extension of their role to caregiver, decision maker, communicator, leader, manager, lifelong learner, and teacher.
Pharmacy students are given many courses in biomedical, pharmaceutical, clinical, and administrative sciences to strengthen their knowledge and build their skills so that they may become productive and successful practitioners in the field of pharmaceutical practice. Students’ preparedness for their future career plans during high school is very important. For example, in Canada, more than 3500 junior high school students were interviewed to assess their future career plans and their confidence in being able to find training and jobs in their field of interest. A majority of students had already planned for their future career and were confident regarding finding jobs at the national and global level.
High school students are normally unaware of the pharmaceutical profession or the role of pharmacists. There are, however, many reasons for students to choose pharmacy as an area of specialization after high school graduation. Some may choose pharmacy because they want to work with patients, others may choose pharmacy because they want profession with a high level of income, while others may choose pharmacy because they want a profession with flexible working hours. These students may be influenced to study pharmacy by their relatives, friends, or teachers, or through career fairs.
The College of Pharmacy at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences offered a one week program for high school graduates, introducing them to the pharmacy profession. During this week, students were briefed on the profession, were involved in activities related to compounding, visited practice sites, and were included in certain clinical trainings. At the end of the week, about 70% of students who had completed the course either applied or considered applying for the pharmacy program. 7Proper systematic and professional guidance for high school students regarding the pharmaceutical career and the potential working opportunities would guide students toward selecting their career of interest, as well as helping them to map their future career plan. The pharmaceutical market in KSA suffers from shortage of native-born pharmacists, which has led to the recruitment of a large number of overseas pharmacists. 8 As recently as 2001, there was only one school of pharmacy inks, but by 2016 a total of 21 public pharmacy colleges and private colleges had been established.
Nowadays, the total number of doctoral (Pharm D) programs offered in KSA is 19, while 15 Bachelor’s (B Pharm) programs are on offer. Due to the tremendous increase in the number of pharmacy colleges between 2001 and 2016, the number of Saudi national pharmacists increased from 5% to 16. 6%during that period. 10Many studies worldwide have investigated the reasons and motivators for pharmacy students to study pharmacy5, 6, 11e14 as well as their future career plans. 4, 15, 16 In KSA, only one study was conducted among 122 final year B Pharm and Pharm D students in Riyadh to evaluate the main factors influencing students’ selection of the pharmacy program and their willingness to enter the pharmaceutical industry after graduation. Taif is one of the major cities located in the western region of KSA. No previous studies have been conducted in the western region of KSA exploring pharmacy students’ satisfaction levels and future career plans. Therefore, this study aims to evaluate the motivations of all pharmacy students (PharmD) in joining the pharmacy program at Tail University, their satisfaction concerning their choice, and their future career plans.
A cross-sectional study was carried out at the College of Pharmacy, Taif University. About 700 questionnaires were conveniently distributed to all pharmacy students at Taif University.
The questionnaire was developed after an extensive literature review. Form and content validation were performed by two experts from the Clinical Pharmacy Department at Taif University (one professor and one associate professor). The initial questionnaire was piloted on 20 students. The pilot study yielded a Cronbach’s alpha of 82. 6%. The questionnaire was divided into four sections. The first section concerned respondents ‘demographics, such as gender, educational level, place of residence, and Grade Point Average (GPA).
Section two enquired about students’ reasons for choosing to study the Pharm D program. The third section concerned students ‘satisfaction regarding their choice of pharmacy as a major. The final section asked about students’ future career plans. In this section, students were given a list of possible career paths for pharmacists and asked to answer either “yes” or “no” to each one. Since students were allowed to choose more than one possible future career plan, the total percentage of students’ choices may in some cases be more than 100%.
All pharmacy students at the College of Pharmacy, Taif University, were eligible to participate in this study, a total of 765 male and female students. All students were enrolled in the same program, a year Pharm D program.
A group of 4thyear pharmacy students were recruited as data collectors. They met with pharmacy students at the College of Pharmacy during their study breaks from April 1, 2017 to April 30, 2017. First, data collectors introduced themselves to students and briefed them about the study. They then informed them that their participation in the study would be voluntary and that all data would be kept confidential. Students who agreed to join the study and gave informed verbal consent were given the questionnaire. The questionnaire generally took less than 10 min to complete.
Data obtained from this survey were coded, entered, and then analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences(SPSS) Version 22. 0. Frequencies and percentages were used to describe the results, while Chisquare and Fisher Exact tests were used to determine the association between the students ‘demographic profiles and their answers to the three main study sections. Values of less than 0. 05 were considered significant.
A total of 700 students were present during the study period. Only 398 students responded to the questionnaire, response rate of 56. 85%. The majority of respondents were male (80%), in their fourth year of study (47. 7%), had applied for the pharmacy program as their second choice after medicine (62. 3%), and preferred to study the Pharm D program (98. 2%). Detailed results are shown in Table 1. Table 2 below summarizes students’ reasons for choosing to enroll on the pharmacy program. Two thirds of respondents were encouraged to study pharmacy by family members, while threequartersee73. 4%eechose pharmacy because their high school grades allowed them to join the program. Looking for an in demand job with career opportunities, flexible working hours, wishing to work in ahealthrelated field, and having a secure job were the main incentives for pharmacy students to join the pharmacy program (81. 7%, 67. 8%, 83. 4%, and 83. 2%, respectively). Just over half of all respondents (52%) either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that pharmacy is the ideal profession. In addition, about 58. 7% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that, if they were given the chance to choose their program of study again, they would again choose pharmacy. Only 27%of respondents regretted entering College of Pharmacy. Regarding students’ future career plans, students were asked to tick all areas of work that might be of interest to them.
Studying pharmacy is a stressful task due to the academic workload during the study period. Therefore, students joining a pharmacy program should be clear about the requirements for successful completion of the program, as well as the opportunities available for pharmacy graduates. It is noticeable in our findings that only 37. 7% of our respondents had applied to study pharmacy as their first choice. It is a common view in Arabian countries that students who attain high grades in their high school studies largely choose to study medicine as their first choice. Those who fail to secure a place in the faculty of medicine choose to study pharmacy or another health related subject most of the time. In a study conducted among undergraduate pharmacy students in Jordan, it was found that 45% had applied for pharmacy as their first choice, while about 32%of respondents had medicine as their first choice of study program. Similar findings were found in a study conducted among pharmacy students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, where pharmacy was the first choice for 52. 3% of pharmacy students. Many incentives and influencing factors could affect students’ decision regarding their chosen field of study. In our study, about two thirds of respondents, 66%, were encouraged to study pharmacy by family members, 83. 7% wanted to work in well-respected profession, 81. 7% chose pharmacy because of their desire to work in a popular and in demand profession, 60% due to their belief that pharmacy is the closest profession next to medicine, while two thirds wanted a job involving direct contact with patients. We note that schoolteachers played a role in guiding students’ future career plans in only a minority of cases (20. 4%). All of these reasons were in turn mainly due to students’ perceptions toward the pharmacy profession, namely, that it is secure, respected, and in demand, as well as family influence.
Another study investigating the factors influencing Pharm D students to study pharmacy at the University of Georgia and at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in the USA found that the majority of students were encouraged to study pharmacy by someone else. Of these, 43%were influenced by family, 24% by pharmacy students or pharmacists, and about 9% by a career day event that had introduced them tithe pharmacy profession.
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