Exploring practising pharmacy graduates’ views on improving the effectiveness of pharmacy education at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Background. South African health professional education institutions have a mandate to produce graduates who are able to address priority needs of the healthcare system and larger society. However, evidence of the effective use of public resources by health education institutions is not routinely collected. Practising graduates are a target audience who could provide part of this evidence.
Objectives. To explore the views of University of the Western Cape (UWC) pharmacy graduates on the effectiveness of pharmacy education in relation to their current and anticipated practice aspirations.
Methods. A cross-sectional electronic survey was administered to UWC pharmacy graduates through the university’s alumni office network.
Results. Twenty-five graduates responded, of whom 60% were male (average age 38.9 (standard deviation 9.52) years). One of the strongest themes that emerged was the need for exposing pharmacy students from early on in the curriculum to a broad range of pharmacy and healthcare sectors and addressing real issues in these changing and complex environments. Graduates stressed the importance of the development of generic skills, such as interpersonal skills, leadership, advocacy and innovative problem-solving, which are necessary to effect positive change through collaborative and equitable approaches.
Conclusions. The findings are aligned with general trends in health education reform, such as embedding undergraduate training in the healthcare system and development of generic skills. Routine and reciprocal communication with graduates might be a valuable resource to monitor and evaluate educational outcomes to strengthen the healthcare system and benefit society.