To further enhance pharmacists’ capacity in clinical practice, the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP), in collaboration with the management of Delta State University Teaching Hospital (DELSUTH), Oghara, has established the International Pharmacy Practice Residency (IPPR) programme.
The IPPR, being the first of its kind in the West African sub-region, and the second in Africa, after Egypt, will be accredited by the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP), which will also award certificates to Fellows of the WAPCP at the conclusion of the training.
The ASHP has, since 1963, served as the sole accreditation organisation for pharmacy residencies and pharmacy technician training programme in the United States of America.
During an exclusive interview with Dr Teresa Pounds, who was the brain behind the new initiative, she said her experience and role at the ASHP made her realise that WAPCP can derive huge benefit from embracing the idea of international residency for students of the institution.
She added that, fortunately, the leadership of the college bought into the idea, following which discussions ensued for about a year and half, culminating in the recent inauguration.
Pounds, who is the current president of the Nigerian Association of Pharmacists and Pharmaceutical Scientists in the Americas (NAPPSA), said: “I was appointed to the ASHP International Accreditation Commission (IAC) in August 2020 for three years. Due to my role in the position, I was able to note that WAPCP would benefit with the information I had to share with them to see how they could restructure the current residency programme that they have, and the leadership team of WAPCP was very receptive to my recommendation and thought because I had pretty much told them what they needed to restructure their programme and focus it more on practice.
“Although the WAPCP programme was great, it needed a little more of exposure to the practice aspect. That was where the discussion started from about a year and half ago, when I started working with Prof. Ibrahim Oreagba, secretary general, WAPCP; and President Prof. Cecilia Igwilo, on the idea, before it eventually materialised this year.”
She continued: “The reason why the new residency programme is so important is that patients are the ones to benefit more. This residency programme is focused on what is called the patient-centred care; meaning, the patient is the centre of everything, not the physician, the pharmacist, or any other person.
“The residents will be trained to be able to work averagely with doctors and nurses and other healthcare personnel. The doctors will still be in charge of patients but the residents will do better in supporting doctors and nurses, when it comes to medications therapy management.”
On the choice of DELSUTH for the maiden edition of the residency training, Pounds noted that the management cordially keyed into the idea, and thus positioning the institution to be the first in West Africa to run residency for pharmacists.
She added: “I have received lots of calls from different teaching hospitals, saying they are interested. The plan that WAPCP has is that any institution that has the interest in doing it will be added later.”
Also speaking on the inauguration of the residency programme, the Nigerian Chapter Chairperson of WAPCP, Pharm. (Dr) Margaret Obono, acknowledged Pounds as the initiator of the initiative in Nigeria, by facilitating the alliance between WAPCP and ASHP, which, she said, will enable pharmacists to work with other healthcare professionals for the maximum benefits of patients.
“With this collaboration, pharmacists optimise medication therapy, reduce medication errors drastically; unnecessary expenditure on drugs is prevented, prolonged hospital stay is prevented and even morbidity is drastically reduced. Most of these challenges arise due to irrational drug use and so require the intervention of pharmacists to help patients get maximum benefits from their drugs,” she said.
Expressing her delight in the commencement of the two-year programme at DELSUTH, Obono remarked that if it is replicated in other health institutions in Nigeria, patients will testify to its benefits and the country’s health indices will improve.
In her contribution, Pharm.(Dr) Amaka Okafor, secretary of the Nigerian Chapter of WAPCP, revealed that the programme is based on the mentorship and coaching model that allows pharmacists to apply the knowledge and skills learnt in school to real patients, situations and settings, in specialised conditions.
She noted that, after the programme, pharmacists will become clinician pharmacists with expertise in special practice areas, such as oncology, intensive care, and so on.
According to her, “It is what the person learns during the residency that he or she will apply. The more specialised care we have, the better for our healthcare service delivery.”