Document Type: Letter to Editor

Authors

1 Faculty of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

3 Department of Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Health, Faculty of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

Abstract

Dear Editor, In pharmacy, professionalism must containthe skills necessary to be a capable pharmacypractitioner. It seems that pharmacy studentsdo not become professionals after graduationfrom the pharmacy school. To be a professionalpharmacist, students should have a lifelongcommitment to the society and patients.Evolving professional knowledge, attitudesand behaviors is a critical step in providinghigh quality patient care (1). In the last previousyears, pharmacy practice has changed from drugprescription to patient-centered communicationand more stress on pharmacists’ accountabilityfor the best treatment outcomes. Thus,pharmacists are accountable for providing goodhealth care facilities. In this regard, pharmacistsshould cooperate well with other health careprofessionals and patients (2).An important component of professionalismin pharmacy is ethics education (3). The necessityof ethics education in pharmacy highlightsthe significance of ethical considerationsby pharmacists (2). The significant servicedelivered by pharmacists in Iran is respondingthe patients’ questions. Therefore, pharmacistsmust be up to date with ethical issues and applythe best ethical responses to different patients’problems (2). In Shiraz University of MedicalSciences, the medical ethics department isresponsible for ethics education for all medicaland paramedical students including pharmacystudents. This education consists of one weekworkshop including important issues in pharmacyethics. This is a part of core pharmacy educationcurriculum and all of the students shouldparticipate in this course.In order to measure the students’ knowledgeabout ethics in pharmacy education, weconducted a survey with an 18 item valid andreliable questionnaire containing three majordomains: truthfulness, professional commitment,respect for patients’ rights and confidentiality ofpatients’ information). 162 pharmacy studentsin 7 to 12 semesters in Shiraz pharmacy schoolwere selected through simple random samplingmethod. All of the students filled out thequestionnaire based on a 5 point Likert scale.The results showed that 14 (8.6%) students hada moderate level of knowledge, 68 (42%) had agood level of knowledge, and 80 (49.4%) hada very good level of knowledge. There was nosignificant relationship between gender andlevel of knowledge. There was a significantrelationship between the level of knowledge andeducational semester. Senior students had higherknowledge. The best results were in the domainof respect for patients’ right and confidentiality ofpatients’ information. These results showed thatstudents had an acceptable level of knowledge,especially in the field that is necessary for theirfuture profession (patients’ right and patients’confidentiality). Pharmacy students shouldestablish good relationships with each other,patients, and other health care professionals.Therefore, a professional behavior should beencouraged more than focusing on knowledge. Inthis study, it was not possible to follow the studentsin future years to measure their professionalbehavior, but it is recommended for futurestudies. However, it seems that this knowledgewill not necessarily change to improvement inpractice in pharmacist because pharmacy is not ascience of pure knowledge. The closer integrationof knowledge and practice named “practice-basedknowledge” is an important area that is essentialto be considered by pharmacists (4).Pharmacy students must remain up to datewith changes in their profession, which maycontain new practice guidelines, new pharmacyand therapeutic products, and new technologies.In order to improve the students’ professionalbehavior, they should participate in communityservices, volunteering programs, (serving andhelping others), health education services andlocal health care organizations. After graduation,participation in Continuing ProfessionalDevelopment instead of Continuing PharmacyEducation is necessary to maintain the knowledgeand behavior in this field. In ContinuingProfessional Development, learning occursin lifetime and continues after the classroomin everyday practice (5). Excellence shouldbe considered not only in the undergraduatepharmacy education, but also after graduationtraining, and during practice. Finally, it should bementioned that pharmacy students must remainknowledgeable and pursue guidance to achievethe goal of excellence in professional ethics.