Learning in the laboratory — equipping pharmacists with practical skills
The goal of the Assuring Quality in Higher Education in Sierra Leone (AQHEd-SL) project, is to strengthen the delivery of student-centred, outcome-based education to create a more responsive and capable graduate workforce. Activities have focused on four core disciplines, namely agriculture, engineering, business and management and health, across seven higher education institutions in Sierra Leone.
For the health cluster, the first programme to be reviewed has been the Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons) at the College of Medicines and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS). During the review process, both stakeholders and faculty staff have stressed the importance of laboratory classes for students. Such classes enable students to gain basic laboratory skills that are required for graduate roles in quality control and the pharmaceutical industry. They also help them to visualise and develop their understanding of the theorical concepts within the pharmaceutical sciences.
In order to address this need, the AQHEd-SL project has invested in some key pieces of multi-purpose laboratory equipment that can be used by three departments that teach different pharmaceutical sciences, namely pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmaceutics and pharmacognosy. Seven lecturers from across these departments and four laboratory technicians recently attended a one-day training for the newly installed equipment.
Attendees were orientated to use the two new precision weighing balances, pH meter, rotary evaporator for separating and purifying chemical compounds, UV spectrophotometer for chemical analysis and water still for preparing distilled water. Those trained enjoyed the practical exercises undertaken and expressed their appreciation for this timely and helpful contribution, which has been installed in the faculty laboratory at Connaught Hospital. Four students who also attended the training day explained that they were extremely happy with the provision of this unique equipment, which will boost the practical aspect of their studies alongside the theory already covered. This equipment will assist students wishing to undertake laboratory-based research in their final year. Students explained that before this equipment arrived, they thought they would need to change their planned research topic, but now they are able to pursue their interests.