Report on EduPharm@Asia 2010!

A Report on Educating Pharmacists (Asia) Symposium 2010

15 & 16 April 2010

National University of Singapore

Reported by A/Prof Wai Keung Chui

The inaugural Educating Pharmacists (Asia) Symposium 2010 was held in Singapore at the National University of Singapore on 15 and 16 April 2010. The organizing committee, chaired by A/Prof Chui Wai Keung, selected the theme “Educating Future Pharmacists for Patient-centric Services and Research” for this first symposium. This event was also organized as one of several celebratory activities that commemorated the 105th year anniversary of the Department of Pharmacy at the NUS.

Other objectives of organizing this symposium were to support of the action plan of the Global Education Taskforce by:

(a) Providing a platform for academics in pharmacy education to share and learn about curriculum development, course design and teaching methodologies relevant to the practice model in a country.

(b) Providing an opportunity to establish a network of academic pharmacists in the Western Pacific region and beyond.

(c) Providing a platform for other healthcare professionals (eg. physicians, nurses and dentists) to share how they educate their students for patient-centric services. This platform may serve as a spring board for inter-professional education in the future.

The symposium was supported by both the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum and the South East Asian FIP-WHO Pharmaceutical Forum.

On the first day, Ms Yong Ying-I, the Permanent Secretary for Health in Singapore, officiated the opening of the event. In her opening address, she provided an overview of the changing roles of the pharmacists as well as the growing demand for pharmacists in the healthcare system of Singapore (

Following the opening ceremony, the sessions began in the presence of some 83 registered delegates and speakers. The delegates were composed of academics and pharmacy practitioners who came from China, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Taiwan and Singapore. There were representatives from National Pharmaceutical Associations as well as National Pharmacy Council of different countries. It was good to see that the participants represented different stakeholders and not only the academics.

14 speakers from 9 universities from across the world (namely USA, UK, Australia, Japan and Singapore) gathered to share the latest innovations in the education and training of pharmacists and healthcare professionals to take on various roles in the healthcare industry, pharmaceutical industry and clinical research. Among the speakers at the first panel session on curriculum design for pharmacy education was Dr Sandy Cook, Associate Dean of Curriculum Development at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, who examined the benefits of adopting the team-based learning approach for healthcare professional programmes. Sharing perspectives on preparing for a renaissance in pharmacy education was Professor Robert Blouin, Dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina, USA. Associate Professor Kay Stewart from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University spoke on the usefulness of introducing a competency-based curriculum for pharmacists. Associate Professor Wai Keung Chui, Deputy Head of the NUS Department of Pharmacy, provided an overview on the Singapore experience in educating pharmacists, while Professor Shigeo Yamamura gave the audience an update on the recent pharmacy educational reform in Japan. The sessions on the first day ended with Dr Colin Adair (Director Northern Ireland Centre for Pharmacy Learning and Development, Belfast, Northern Ireland) and Ms Wendy Lebing (Assistant Dean, QA/RA Graduate Program, Temple University School of Pharmacy, USA) speaking on continuing education for health professionals and career development for pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry.

Professor Ian Bates started the second day with an overview on experiential learning for pharmacy students. This was followed by Associate Professor Pamela Joyner (Associate Dean for Professional Education, University of North Carolina, USA) and Ms Mui Ling Tan (Senior Lecturer, NUS Pharmacy) who provided the audience with an insight to experiential learning in USA and Singapore respectively.

The session on Use of Technology as an educational tool began with Associate Professor Erle Lim of the Yong Loo Lin Medical School at the NUS, who explained how videos were able to capture unusual medical cases for medical students’ experiential learning experience. Associate Professor Kay Stewart returned to the podium to share with the audience how technology could enhance the learning experience of students. Associate Professor Huang Hoon Chng (Director of the CDTL) and Ms Kiruthika Ragupathi from the Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning, NUS, discussed how to meet the challenges in staff development and the use of technology for education at the NUS. Professor Nicholas Popovich (Head of Dept of Pharmacy Admin, College of Pharmacy, and University of Illinois at Chicago, USA) provided some useful tips on achieving success as an academic pharmacist. The second day ended with Professor Ian Bates giving the final lecture on the challenges and future of global pharmacy education.

The 2-day symposium covered topics ranging from professional pharmacy curricular design, experiential education to continuing education. These topics are certainly very relevant and they underpin the foundation of the continuum in the education and learning processes of the pharmacists from formal education, professional training to lifelong learning.

(The VIP at the inaugural Educating Pharmacists (Asia) Symposium: (From left) Deputy Head of NUS Department of Pharmacy Assoc Prof Chui Wai Keung, NUS Vice Provost (Education) Prof Tan Thiam Soon, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Ms Yong Ying-I, Head of NUS Department of Pharmacy Assoc Prof Chan Sui Yung and Dean of the NUS Faculty of Science Prof Andrew Wee.)

A Note from Mr John Ware, President of the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum.

It was most unfortunate that I was unable to attend ‘the inaugural Educating Pharmacists (Asia) Symposium 2010’ and as President of the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum, I would like to thank my Vice-President, Associate Professor Wai Keung Chui, for organising such a successful seminar. The Executive Committee of the Forum recognised there were many problems in the development of curriculum within many of the pharmacy schools in the Western Pacific and South East Asian regions of WHO.

The Forum is grateful for the support for this project shown by the National University of Singapore, led by Associate Professor Wai Keung Chui, supported by the Josai International University, Tokyo, Japan and Monash University, Melbourne, Australia and the FIP Pharmacy Education Taskforce, led by Professor Ian Bates, University of London.

We hope that this is not the first of these seminars as we know that there are still a great amount of work to be done encouraging the development of pharmacy curricula that suits the environment and situations in individual countries in our region. We hope that in future funding may be able to be obtained to enable either the Forum to go to individual countries which are in need of curriculum support, or enable those pharmacy educators to travel to a central venue.

It was most gratifying to see there were participants from Indonesia who are looking to make great changes in pharmacy education and from pharmacists who are endeavouring to establish training programs for pharmacy assistants in the small islands of the Pacific.

In conclusion as President of the Western Pacific Pharmaceutical Forum and the Executive Committee, I would like to congratulate the National University of Singapore which supported this program as part of its celebration of 105 years of pharmacy education in Singapore and Vice-President Wai Keung Chui and his committee for their dedication in pursuing quality pharmacy and pharmaceutical science education within the Western Pacific and South East Asians of the World Health Organization.