The Project Mission is to modernize the Postgraduate Qualification Curriculum at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade, initiate the Pharmacy Postgraduate Qualification Curricula at the other RS Universities and improve the Continuing Professional Development System in the Pharmaceutical Sector in Serbia through the:
- recognition of learning outcomes based professional profiles and/or levels;
- implementation of the more flexible and efficient teaching and learning;
- introduction of new course contents, and
- establishment of the relevant ECTS credit system (in both the formal Postgraduate Qualification Courses as well as in the Continuing Professional Development) as a prerequisite for professional levels recognition.
In order to achieve these aims, mobilization of all the interested parties in RS, strengthening the links between the RS HEI and increased mobility and exchange with the EU partner institutions is needed.
Having in mind the multidisciplinary structure of the Pharmacy Postgraduate Curriculum and with respect to the problems identified, four core Working Packages have been recognized:
- Curriculum Update
- Faculty (Staff and Educational Resources) Development
- Development of e-education platform
- Harmonization with the EU practice and policy
The developments gained through academic staff training will have the major impact on the improvement of teaching and learning in general and contribute the accomplishment of the HE quality standards at all the study levels including undergraduate and postgraduate PhD studies.
The development of competent teaching practitioners will represent the significant contribution to the further improvement in the quality of continuing professional development and work-placement teaching and learning as part of the postgraduate qualification curricula.
In a changing, increasingly complex profession, and with rapid medical and technological advances, the need for Postgraduate Qualification in Pharmacy (PQPharm) is well recognized and presents the basis for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Life Long Learning (LLL). There is a need for an appropriately designed, competency-based educational programs to prepare pharmacists for modern pharmacy practice which is focused on improving the use of medicines in patients. Such a professional program must not only address the knowledge required, but also the skills, attitudes and abilities of pharmacists to work closer with patients and with the multidisciplinary healthcare team in the community pharmacy, hospital, laboratory or the pharmaceutical industry settings.
Situational Analysis and the Need for Change
Pharmacy Education in Serbia has a 70 years of tradition, since the Pharmacy Department was founded at the Medical Faculty, University of Belgrade in 1939. First Postgraduate Specialization courses were introduced at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade in 1955.
Following the signing of the Bologna Declaration in 2003, Serbia officially joined other European countries in this Trans-European process aiming at creation of the European Space in Higher Education by the year 2010. Serbian Universities have been involved in the major curriculum reform during the last six years. The reforms towards the Bologna process have been implemented on both the undergraduate and postgraduate PhD level. On the other hand, there is a rising concern from both the faculty members, as well as the pharmaceutical profession at large regarding the quality improvement of Postgraduate Qualification Curricula and the potential ways to meet the request for Continual Professional Development and Lifelong Learning. Such demands are in line with the globally recognized issues in Postgraduate Pharmacy Education:
“The development of the pharmaceutical field calls for further education and specialization beyond the master level. In Europe there are as many ways to pursue this challenge as there are national states. In the Bologna framework the PhD degree is the only formal framework for postgraduate education (third cycle). The educational needs for pharmacists to be able to practice as specialists in various fields do not always fit into the PhD format and expectations. We have a need for a more diversified tool-box.”
Preface to the 2009 Annual Conference of the European Association of Faculties of Pharmacy and the national priorities recognized in the Tempus IV second call for proposals.
There is a great interest of pharmacy professionals for these type of postgraduate education programs, and the number of candidates entering different postgraduate qualification programs at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade reached a number of 166 students in the school year 2008/09. The main objective of the recent graduates to enter some of the postgraduate qualification programs is to improve their employability, while more experienced professionals are looking for further professional development and/or to meet the specific job/position requirements. However, it was recognized that the existing postgraduate qualification curriculum is rigid, conservative and does not fully meet the modern needs and expectations of the pharmaceutical profession. The main deficiencies recognized refer to the:
- The segmental organization scheme of the postgraduate courses and their ’departmentalization’;
- Poor "vertical’ and “horizontal” association between the courses;
- Small number of elective courses;
- Lack of educational resources available, and
- Absence of harmonization with the internationally recognized postgraduate educational levels.
Additional problems refer to the:
- Limited use of the novel teaching/learning and assessment methods (the educational strategy is still, mostly, teacher-centered and conventional lectures based;
- Use of information technologies (IT) is, still, insufficient.
Therefore, the postgraduate qualification courses are quite demanding, also, in relation to the ‘on site’ contact time requirements which pose a considerable burden on both the students and the teaching staff.
There is also a need for re-training of skilled teacher-practitioners who would represent the role model for pharmacists during the work-placement segment of their postgraduate specialization studies and in the course of continuing professional development. The teacher-practitioners should be, as well as the academic staff, well trained in the novel teaching/learning and assessment methodologies in order to provide high quality work based educational environment.
Although Postgraduate Qualification Courses are yet not offered from the Pharmacy Departments at the University of Novi Sad, University of Niš and University of Kragujevac, there is a common need for the improvement in the field of Continuing Professional Development and Quality Assurance in Higher Education.