Pharmacy World & Science

, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp 577–583 | Cite as

Addressing the workforce crisis: the professional aspirations of pharmacy students in Ghana

  • Frances Owusu-DaakuEmail author
  • Felicity SmithEmail author
  • Rita Shah
Research Article


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.


Africa 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical and Social Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical SciencesKNUSTKumasiGhana
  2. 2.School of PharmacyUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Kings College HospitalDenmark Hill, LondonUK

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