In this exclusive interview with Pharmanews, Jeremiah Tyokosu, president, Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria Students (PANS), University of Jos (UNIJOS), lends his voice to the call for the harmonisation of the pharmacy programme calendar in pharmacy schools across the country. The 500-Level Benue State born student also speaks on his foray into Pharmacy and PANS politics, the introduction of PharmD programme in his school, his plans for the pharmacy students as well as other issues. Excerpts:
Why did you choose to study Pharmacy?
I didn’t know from the onset that I would study Pharmacy. However, I knew for certain that I wanted to belong to a profession that affects human lives directly and positively.
Before I knew there was Pharmacy, I had considered Medicine. But, as God would have it, I found out that there is a healthcare profession that is concerned with the discovery, production, use and all other aspects of medicine, which is the one commodity that the healthcare system cannot do without. That was when my decision to study Pharmacy was made. I would be the person discovering and making available the most essential health commodity – medicines – as well as providing pharmaceutical care to patients and other healthcare workers.
At what point in your academic pursuit did you decide to be involved in PANS politics?
I am someone who has a passion for service. So, as soon as the opportunity presented itself in 100 level for me to be a PANS senator for my class, I did not hesitate. And from then on, I have served PANS and the SUG in various capacities. It’s that same passion and love for sacrificial service that has brought me to this current privileged position of being the UNIJOS PANS president.
As the new president, what are your plans for UNIJOS pharmacy students?
The welfare of UNIJOS pharmacy students was one of the things that motivated me to contest for this position. And since my emergence as the PANS president, I have left no stone unturned to ensure that their welfare is catered for.
Prior to my administration, for more than 20 years, PANS-UNIJOS had not won any executive committee seat in the Students Union Government (SUG), but under my administration, PANS-UNIJOS has campaigned and won a seat in the recent SUG elections. Also, my administration has completed a number of projects, including the rehabilitation of PANS Relaxation Spot.
One of the major challenges, however, is the need for a document processing facility within the faculty. My administration inherited a building project which, in part, is to serve the purpose of a document-processing centre on completion. I have, since assumption of office, put in place modalities to continue with the work.
In the meantime, we have made a make-shift arrangement to serve the students document-processing needs. My administration intends to, by God’s grace and with the help and support of well-meaning individuals and corporate bodies, complete the building project.
What is your assessment of pharmacy education in UNIJOS, compared to other pharmacy schools in the country?
I can confidently say that the UNIJOS pharmacy training programme has one of the highest standards in the country. UNIJOS is one of the first few pharmacy schools that have commenced the PharmD programme. The faculty is also blessed with many of the best pharmacy academicians in the country. Also, we have a student-friendly dean – one of the best things that have happened to PANS-UNIJOS recently.
As PANS president, what would you say are the major challenges associated with studying Pharmacy in your part of the country and how can these be tackled?
Pharmacy education has come a long way in Nigeria. However, the training is not devoid of challenges. Some of these challenges include inadequate facilities, such as laboratories. For most of the second-generation faculties, the facilities were designed to accommodate a few number of students. However, the number of students is on a steady rise, and there is hardly a corresponding expansion and upgrade of these facilities. Students are thus faced with the challenge of sharing limited training physical resources. This, in my opinion, has a major negative impact on the efficiency of pharmacy training.
Also, there is so much to study but so little time. The training is almost always done in a hurry. I think it’s time the faculties of pharmacy should be converted into colleges of pharmacy, so that the academic calendar will be autonomously decided by the colleges and made uniform across all colleges of pharmacy in the country. This will help to accommodate the peculiar needs of the pharmacy training.
The PharmD students of the faculty are now in their 300 level, following the approval of the PharmD conversion programme of the university by the university senate. What can you say about this? Do you advise that all pharmacy schools should convert to PharmD?
I would say this is a welcome development. UNIJOS pharmacy is always at the forefront of advancements in pharmacy training. Globally, pharmacy practice is moving away from a product-centered practice to a more patient-centered practice. As such, the training programme has a need for restructuring as well.
The PharmD programme is designed with a curriculum that is necessary to equip pharmacy students with the requisite skills for the provision of pharmaceutical care at graduation.
In which area of practice would you like to specialise after graduation?
As an aspiring public health pharmacist, I have a special interest in community practice. However, my interest is not limited to community pharmacy practice alone. I also have a keen interest in administration and regulation. I am looking forward to becoming an advocate for the formulation of policies that will provide a platform for the maximisation of the potentials of the pharmacist and the pharmacy profession in Nigeria.
Where do you see PANS-UNIJOS by the time you will be leaving office as the president?
I see a PANS that will have the capacity to satisfactorily represent all the needs of its members, and stand tall among the league of student associations on campus.