THE REAL WORLD…How prepared are today’s graduates?

This week the World Economic Forum held its annual conference in Davos, Switzerland.  Wait!  I promise this won’t be boring.  Don’t quit reading.

The only Canadian university president to attend was Suzanne Fortier of McGill University.

Here is what she said at the conference:

“It’s quite clear that for people in university today, they will have four, five, seven jobs in front of them.  It’s constant reinvention of themselves and we need to prepare them for that world.  They will have a longer period of work and they will have to change.”

Steep job losses are predicted, with health care being noted as likely to suffer the steepest losses due to smarter technology and automation.  We could predict that one, as countless experts continue to point to the major problem with healthcare in Canada as being NOT lack of funds, but the inefficiencies in the system still largely dominated by a silo mentality.

Can anyone truly believe that prescriptions in Canada today (2016) are still handwritten (scrawled) by physicians on little bits of paper?  Legibility is a major waste of time and big source for errors, yet this archaic practice continues to be tolerated.  Why?  Because physicians still retain inordinate power and governments tread lightly near them.

But the really interesting thing about what Ms. Fortier said is: “We (the university) need to prepare them for that world”.  She accepts the notion that the university has as a prime responsibility and an obligation to PREPARE students for the real world.

When I wrote about this subject a few blogs ago and asserted that pharmacy faculties do a poor job of preparing pharmacy graduates for the real world, I was criticized and challenged by an Ontario pharmacy faculty dean and accused of being “grossly misinformed”.

I subsequently clarified that I was not speaking about the curriculum.  I am aware, evidenced by the excellent calibre/talent of graduates that come out pharmacy schools today, that their knowledge far surpasses anything I experienced many decades ago when I graduated.  These graduates are stars

What I was referring to, and which I believe what Ms. Fortier is referring to, is preparation for the real world of WORK.  What does the landscape look like?  Where are the pitfalls, and where are the opportunities?  What should be avoided?  How do you get the most out of your $150,000 investment and 5 or 6 years of your life? Where do you want to take your career and your profession?  How do you want to shape your future?

If these questions and issues were addressed early in the university curriculum, it would provide two distinct and important benefits.

First:  Those students who come to realize that their idealized notion of what it means to become a pharmacist today (recognizing a landscape that is dominated by Big Pharmacy Retail) may not be where they really want to spend the next several decades of their lives.  In the interest of honesty and integrity we owe these students, once informed, the opportunity to switch tracks if they so choose to do so and before they spend a great deal of time and money.

Second, and more important:  With a clear understanding of who the real power brokers in pharmacy are today, those undergraduates that choose to pursue a pharmacy career notwithstanding the many challenges, can prepare and guide their choices in a direction that will improve their chances of enjoying a satisfying and rewarding career in pharmacy.

We cannot continue to disregard what so often happens today.  Graduates come out of school full of enthusiasm and passion, and within 6 months of working in BPR, their spirits become broken by the prospect of spending their working lives, having no control over their profession, in a grocery store cubicle, struggling with the stresses dictated by a highly competitive retailing marketplace/jungle.

Surely we, but ESPECIALLY ACADEMIA in whom students have placed their trust, owe them this minimum obligation to prepare them for the real world.

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