Oman visit for Pharmacy and Life Sciences staff

Pharmacy experts from Robert Gordon University (RGU) visited the Middle East recently to strengthen ties with partner agencies and fellow academics in the region.

Professor Stewart and Dr Cunningham met staff from the Khoula Hospital, Muscat, Oman.Professor Derek Stewart and Dr Scott Cunningham from the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences were in Oman from Saturday, January, 25 until Monday, February, 3.

They were invited by the country’s Ministry of Health who have ambitious plans for developing the role of pharmacists within the healthcare service in Oman. Their plans include increasing involvement in direct patient care and working alongside other healthcare professionals.

While there Professor Stewart and Dr Cunningham were hosted by Professor Dr Moustafa Abdelkreem, Dean of the Oman Assistant Pharmacy Institute (OAPI). The overall purpose of the visit was to explore the potential for further collaboration between OAPI and RGU.

Together, they reviewed OAPI course developments in relation to the provision of a BSc Pharmacy degree which commences in 2014 and a proposed undergraduate Master of Pharmacy course which is planned for 2018.

They also discussed the possibility of extending a current scheme which sees students from Oman entering stage two of the RGU MPharm degree course.

Dr Cunningham, who is Teaching Group Leader and Teaching Fellow within the School, said: “We have an excellent relationship with OAPI and are working to ensure these links are strengthened. The current scheme has been very successful and we have our first students from Oman set to graduate later this year.”

Another topic of discussion was the potential for a new full time postgraduate MSc programme which would be delivered at RGU and designed for international Clinical Pharmacy practice. This will help meet the needs of the Oman development plans and would see Omani pharmacists studying and gaining work experience in Aberdeen for two years.

Research was also a key aspect of the discussions and will involve joint supervision of doctoral research students and submission of joint funding applications to award schemes in Oman.

Professor Cherry Wainwright, Director of the Institute for Health and Wellbeing Research (IHWR), said: “The IHWR and its associated Graduate School offers broad ranging, international quality academic expertise and substantial superb facilities to study for a PhD within all areas of pharmacy and pharmaceutical science. The prospect of supporting doctoral level training for staff within OAPI is very exciting for us.”

Professor Stewart, who is a Principal Member of IHWR, said: “Oman’s pharmacy services are developing rapidly and there is great scope to collaborate to build a robust research ethos and establish an evidence base for pharmacy practice. This will help consolidate the plans that the Ministry has for workforce development.”

Professor Stewart and Dr Cunningham also met with key staff members from OAPI including Dr Mohamed Elwan, Dr Ragini, Dr Mohamed Shams, Dr Mostafa Khamis, and Mrs Sally Perry.

Dr Cunningham said: “All the staff we met were dedicated to advancing pharmacy education within OAPI and had committed to using their existing diploma program as a platform to developing the BSc course and the future MPharm programme. There is now the potential for mutual exchange of staff and students between the RGU and OAPI in the future.”

Professor Stewart and Dr Cunningham also visited three hospitals in Oman’s capital city, Muscat, where they met senior medical staff and Clinical Pharmacy staff.

There they were given a presentation on healthcare provision in Oman and observed clinical pharmacy practice on some wards and explored education, training, and research needs.

Dr Cunningham said: “The clinical pharmacy teams at the hospitals were extremely welcoming and enthusiastic in the development of clinical practice. They indicated that there is a lot of scope for building on undergraduate training through provision of high quality postgraduate study opportunities such as an MSc Clinical Pharmacy. They also recognised the need for linked research to underpin their practice.”

Professor Don Cairns, Head of the School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, is an External Examiner for the existing OAPI course for Pharmacist Assistants.

He said: “It’s an exciting time for pharmacy in Oman and there is much to be gained on both sides through RGU’s collaborative work with OAPI. This relationship also sits comfortably with the university’s internationalisation agenda and is one of several initiatives the school is currently involved in on the international stage.”

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Jack MilnerCommunications Office | Placement student