Experiences in the introduction of a simulation pharmacy within a multi-professional simulation centre
Introduction: A new School of Pharmacy at the University of Hertfordshire launched a MPharm programme in September 2005. The Programme has an innovative curriculum supported by state of the art teaching facilities including a simulated pharmacy. This model strengthens the student’s ability to develop their clinical practice skills as required by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. The use of a simulated Pharmacy in developing skills for practice is enhanced by its integration in a multi-professional simulation centre, called HICESC (1), with the latest audio-visual and simulation technology. Planning: As a new facility, the pharmacy had to be fitted out from an empty shell. The design was created by a joint project team including the National Pharmacy Association. The design incorporates a scaled down fully operational version of a robotic dispenser (ARX) used in many pharmacies. It also incorporates features to support the new role of pharmacists in the UK(2) including space for health promotion activities and a counselling area suitable for giving patient advice and performing a basic patient assessment. Because of differences with hospital pharmacy, an area which could be used for needle exchange schemes in community was designed so that it could operate as a staff access area for nurses/doctors. As the design was turned into reality some minor changes had to be incorporated. The mock pharmacy has three computer controlled audio-visual cameras able to view 359o for the use of recording training and scenarios in the unit, so it was not possible to make the counselling area as confidential as would be the case in practice. The changes ensured that activities in the Pharmacy can be observed and used in teaching of the cohort of students, or transmitted to a wider student group in an adjacent seminar room. Implementation: Equipping the pharmacy was a major undertaking, as sample quantities were required of a wide range of prescription and over the counter medication, including varied dose forms. This was achieved by a mixture of purchase, donations from pharmaceutical companies, and by members of staff contributing empty packages. For security reasons, no active medication is stocked. The pharmacy also needed to be stocked with appropriate reference materials and registers, and a range of health promotion materials. Because of the developing role of the pharmacist, clinical equipment such as blood pressure monitors, blood glucose testing kits were also acquired. To support the Health Promotion role a ‘Healthpoint’ patient information centre was included. The technology was supported by the development of Standard Operating Policies for the Pharmacy in line with National Guidance. Conclusion: The innovative new simulated pharmacy is a complete working laboratory, offering full dispensary facilities to enhance the practical learning and development modules of the MPharm degree and post-graduate courses. It is the first UK mock pharmacy with a robotic dispenser and a fully integrated digital audio-visual system. In operation it has been found to be a valuable tool in equipping students to deal with real-life situations.