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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 48  |  Issue : 7  |  Page : 1--2

Revisiting and innovating pharmacology education

Chetna Desai 
 Department of Pharmacology, B. J. Medical College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Correspondence Address:
Chetna Desai
Department of Pharmacology, B. J. Medical College, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

How to cite this article:
Desai C. Revisiting and innovating pharmacology education.Indian J Pharmacol 2016;48:1-2

How to cite this URL:
Desai C. Revisiting and innovating pharmacology education. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Jun 5 ];48:1-2
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“I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think”


Education is the process of facilitating learning or acquiring knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits that aim at bringing a desired change in the learner. The value of education is emphasized from time immemorial, be it the age-old Gurukuls in India, the Academy of Athens founded by Plato, the Famed Nalanda University, or the modern universities across the world. Formal education happens in a structured environment in which students train with certified teachers in systems defined by goals, objectives, curriculum, teaching–learning and assessment methods, and an inbuilt or external mechanism for accreditation and program evaluation.

Pharmacology education too has evolved since ages from materia medica to the modern era of basic and clinical pharmacology. Pharmacology is an integral component of all professional courses for health professionals. Pharmacology education has become increasingly important with a growing awareness about the right methods of administering and prescribing medicines and educating patients about their medications. Health professionals need quality education and training in pharmacology and pharmacotherapy. Prescribing errors and prescribing faults have been linked to deficiencies in knowledge and skills in prescribing and inadequate training.[1] A growing concern about the knowledge-skills and theory-practice gap is expressed by educators in pharmacology. The World Health Organization also advocates investment in educational opportunities for health professionals, to update their knowledge and skills and thus provide the best patient care.[2] Drawing an analogy between pharmacology and pharmacology education, Keijsers and Ross in “A pharmacological approach to education” write “As with drug concentrations in the human plasma, the levels of knowledge and skills available in the health professionals’ brain are not static and can be influenced by the route of administration and dosages of training.”[3] Back home, the regulatory councils for various professional courses have been advocating and mandating interventions to meet the challenges of the knowledge-skills gap. These include a relook into the existing curricula, introducing innovations in teaching–learning, assessment tools, and capacity–building exercise aimed at developing a competent pool of educators. The Pharmacy Council of India as a pharmacy educationist regulatory body has proposed major amendments in “Pharmacy Practice Regulations” for the first time in the country. The Council emphasizes “the need to strengthen and upgrade the pharmacy curriculum and quality of education to produce competent pharmacist workforce, to meet the growing demands of the industry and the community.”[4] The All India Council for Technical Education lays down norms and standards for courses, curricula, infrastructural and facilities and quality of teaching, assessment, and examinations that are revised periodically to meet the contemporary needs.[5] Similar initiatives have been made by the Medical Council of India, which has mandated Faculty Development Programs for faculty. A step further, it also provides training in advanced techniques in medical education and educational research. The long-term outcome envisaged with all these interventions and regulations is to produce a competent Indian Medical Graduate.[6] Pharmacological societies across the globe too provide a platform for educators to train and share.[7] Back home, professional societies such as the Indian Pharmacological Society, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, and The Indian Ophthalmological Society have also undertaken similar initiatives.

Research should be an integral and ongoing part of education. Educational research refers to a variety of methods, in which individuals evaluate different aspects of education including curriculum, student learning–teaching and assessment methods’ faculty development, and classroom dynamics. It drives us into exploring into educational methods that meet the contemporary needs of the learners. Contrary to general impression, educational research must be conducted in a rigorous and systematic way, much in the same manner as biomedical research. The research methods employed in educational research, i.e., the qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods are different from those used in biomedical research. The last decade is witnessing a surge in educational research being carried out by the faculty and students in pharmacology. Significantly, publications in educational research are gaining the deserved recognition and credit from scientists and stakeholders alike. These facts reflect a paradigm shift in the perception of pharmacology education and educational research as also the impact of various regulatory measures outlined above.

The Indian Journal of Pharmacology publishes articles in pharmacology research. Lately, the journal has been receiving articles on topics related to pharmacology education. Authors have expressed their concerns, vision, suggestions and shared their innovations, and experiments with teaching–learning and assessment methods. In the past 4 years alone, the journal has received more than fifty articles on topics related to pharmacology education and educational research. The number is small compared to the number of articles related to biomedical research in pharmacology but noteworthy nonetheless. The readership of the journal comprises a sizeable number of academicians from educational institutions from various faculties, such as medical, pharmacy, dental, veterinary, and Ayurveda.

Considering these facts, this special supplement themed around topics in pharmacology education is a logical step for the Indian Journal of Pharmacology. The articles received encompass a wide range of topics from curriculum, trends, innovations in teaching–learning, and assessment, experiments with unconventional teaching methods such as the use of poetry. The origin of the articles and affiliations of the authors do not matter as much as the fact that each of these articles documents a sincere effort by the authors to probe and dwell into an innovation and its impact it may possibly have on the quality of education imparted to the students in pharmacology. These articles also provide us an insight into the methods and rigors involved in educational research and serve perhaps as a guide to educationists in pharmacology who may wish to pursue similar explorations.

We hope you enjoy reading this special supplement.


1Dornan T, Ashcroft D, Heathfield H, Lewis P, Miles J, Taylor D, et al. An In-Depth Investigation into Causes of Prescribing Errors by Foundation Trainees in Relation to Their Medical Education: EQUIP Study. Final Report to the General Medical Council. University of Manchester: School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and School of Medicine; 2009. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 01].
2Continuing Education for Health Professionals. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 01].
3Keijsers CJ, Ross S. A pharmacological approach to education. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2015;80:329-30.
4Rules and Regulations. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 05].
5Education. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 05].
6National Faculty Development Program. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 10].
7Teaching Pharmacology. Available from: [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 10].