In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Precious Aniedi Umoren, the newly elected national president, Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), outlines the plans of his administration for pharmacy students nationwide. The 400-Level student of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, also bares his mind on the state of pharmacy education in Nigeria and areas requiring improvement. Excerpts:
Why did you opt for Pharmacy as a course? Was it your first choice?
I actually applied to study Medicine at the university because my parents love medical practice and wanted me to become a medical doctor. To them, it would bring prestige to the family. It didn’t work out at the first try; so I decided to look for something else, while fulfilling my passion. And Pharmacy found me, accepted me into her arms and we have been in love with each other since then.
Pharmacist are the most accessible healthcare providers and I derive so much joy in being able to solve the enormous health problems in our society and most importantly making these healthcare solutions readily available and safe.
Tell us about your experience as a Pharmacy student in the last four years?
I must say that my experience in pharmacy school has been of all shades. It has been tough, very demanding and, of course, full of fun. My memories in pharmacy school will remain ever fresh for a very long time.
What prompted your emergence as PANS national president?
Well, I would, first of all, see my emergence as the will of God coming into manifestation. Yes, I worked hard, did the normal things, but very importantly, I had prepared myself for the ropes of leadership at a very tender age. So, this was a factor too. Then, also, I feel the students saw me fit to be at the helm of affairs. This was what promoted the massive support I got from them.
What aspects of your responsibilities do you consider particularly challenging so far?
So far so good, things have been fairly smooth and I want to attribute this to all pharmacy students, our patrons and mentors in the profession, who have made this possible through their support and contributions.
The major challenge PANS has faced so far is funding, as we have been carrying out our activities with very meagre funds – and thus retarding us from doing a lot of things. But I believe that with support, donations and contributions from our leaders in the profession, we will be able to achieve a lot.
The present Faculty of Pharmacy, UNIUYO, took off in 1990 as a department in the Faculty of Science. Over the years, what would you say are the challenges facing pharmacy education in the school, and how can they be surmounted?
Challenges facing pharmacy education in Nigeria generally are quite numerous. These include the bulky curriculum; limited time to cover a lot of things, prepare for exams and incorporate other activities; very strict marking scheme, which has led to a lot of menacing failure in the school; lack of proper student- lecturer interactions; inadequate facilities in most pharmacy schools in the country, leading to so many inadequacies and many others.
As the Faculty of Pharmacy, UNIUYO, gears up for PharmD takeoff, what is your advice to other schools of pharmacy who are yet to commence the programme?
Schools that have not yet enrolled for the Pharm.D programme should do well to work towards taking a part in it, because this new qualification in the profession will give the pharmacist a lot of edge in the healthcare profession.
If you have the privilege of changing some things about pharmacy education in Nigeria, what would they be?
I would ensure that the bulky curriculum of pharmacy school is streamlined as much as possible. Truth be told, there are so many parts of the pharmacy curriculum that are too enormous, ambiguous and sadly very unnecessary. So If I could, I would make the curriculum a bit friendly.
Where do you see PANS national, by the time you would be leaving office as president?
I have a dream of creating a financial future for PANS national before I leave office. The trend of raising funds and putting all of it in use will come to an end in my tenure. Finally, I see PANS national as a student advocacy body that will achieve a lot in the future to come.