Addressing the workforce crisis: the professional aspirations of pharmacy students in Ghana
- 180 Downloads
Objective A lack of skilled health professionals, and net migration from developing to more developed countries, are widely recognised as barriers to the delivery of effective health care. However, few studies have investigated this issue from the perspective of pharmacists, although they are increasingly viewed as a potentially valuable and underexploited health care resource. The objectives of this study were to examine the professional aspirations and perceived opportunities of final year pharmacy students in a developing country; and consider what developments may encourage them to remain in, and contribute to, health care in their home country. Method Final year pharmacy students from the Faculty of Pharmacy, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana, were randomly selected and invited to participate in in-depth interviews. These were audio-recorded (with permission of respondents) and transcribed verbatim to enable a qualitative analysis. Main outcome measure: professional aspirations, and perceived opportunities and barriers to their achievement in Ghana and abroad. Results Participants viewed themselves, and wished to be viewed by others, as health professionals. They described a commitment to applying their clinical knowledge and to education beyond their first degree. However, they identified significant barriers to the achievement of professional aspirations in Ghana, which would diminish their opportunities to contribute to health care. Whilst most students expressed the expectation or desire to travel at some point, usually early, in their career, they all demonstrated a commitment to their country and stated a wish to return. Conclusion Overall the study highlighted prospective pharmacists in Ghana as ambitious, committed potential health professionals. The study indicates that a lack of attention by policy makers and professional bodies to ways of exploiting the contribution of pharmacists to public health, may represent a lost potential human resource for health in developing countries.
KeywordsAfrica Ghana Human resources Migration Pharmacists Pharmacy students Pharmarcy work force Professional role
We would like to thank all the students in Ghana who enthusiastically shared their views, expectations and experiences in the interviews.
Financial support of the study
We would like to thank the British Council administered DFID funding a Higher Education Link between the Faculty of Pharmacy, Kumasi, Ghana and the School of Pharmacy, University of London as part of which this study was undertaken.
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
- 1.World Health Organisation. Working together for health: The World Health report 2006. Geneva: WHO; 2006. ISBN: 92 4156317 6.Google Scholar
- 2.Buchan J, Sochalski J. The migration of nurses: trends and policies. Bull World Health Organ. 2004;82:5887–94.Google Scholar
- 14.Schmid K. Strategies to manage migration of health professionals. Bull World Health Organ. 2004;82:621–2.Google Scholar
- 17.World Health Organisation. The role of the pharmacist in the health care system. Geneva: WHO; 1990. WHO/PHARM/DAP/90.1.Google Scholar
- 18.World Health Organisation. Good pharmacy practice: guidelines in community and hospital pharmacy settings. Geneva: WHO; 1996. www.who.int.
- 21.Wuliji T. FIP. Global pharmacy workforce and migration report: a call for action. Int Pharm J. 2006;20:2–4.Google Scholar
- 22.Dayrit MM, Dolea C. The health workforce crisis: where are the pharmacists? Int Pharm J. 2006;20:5–7.Google Scholar
- 23.Owusu-Daaku FTK. Pharmacy in Ghana’s healthcare system: which way forward? Ghana Pharm J. 2002;25:20–3.Google Scholar
- 24.FIP. Global pharmacy workforce and migration report: a call for action. The Hague: FIP; 2006. www.fip.org/hr.
- 25.Matowe L, Duwiejua M, Norris P. Is there a solution to the pharmacist brain drain from poor to rich countries? Pharm J. 2004;272:98–9.Google Scholar
- 26.Smith FJ. Research methods in pharmacy practice. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2002. ISBN: 0 85369 481 8.Google Scholar
- 27.Harding G, Taylor K. Pharmacy as a profession. In: Taylor K, Harding G, editors. Pharmacy practice. London: Taylor and Francis; 2001. ISBN: 0 415 27159-2.Google Scholar
- 28.Hagopian A, Ofosu A, Fatusi A, Biritwum R, Essel A, Hart LG, Watts C. The flight of physicians from West Africa: views of African physicians and implications for policy. Social Sci Med. 2005;61:1750–60.Google Scholar