An indispensable role

Pharmacists are playing a key role in community efforts to counter swine flu and to help manage a host of other diseases, including diabetes, Dunedin pharmacist Hani Al-Salami says.

The New Zealand public would also benefit further from more pharmacists undertaking postgraduate training, he said.

Mr Al-Salami (33) is well-placed to comment on postgraduate education, having had his University of Otago pharmacy PhD, on aspects of diabetes treatment, recently approved. He will graduate in August.

He has had eight papers based on his doctoral research - an unusually high number - accepted for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

He also has two other postgraduate qualifications in pharmacy, and a bachelor of pharmacy degree (BPharm) all from Otago.

Mr Al-Salami was born in Yemen and shifted to New Zealand with his family in the early 1990s.

The Otago BPharm provided high quality education and New Zealand's pharmacy system was also of a high standard, he said.

Nevertheless, undertaking further postgraduate study had many benefits, including helping to keep community pharmacists up to date with rapidly changing developments in their field and also helping them to "ask the right questions and get the right answers" when talking to clients.

"It is definitely beneficial to the public," Mr Al-Salami said.

His main PhD supervisor, Prof Ian Tucker, who is dean of the Otago School of Pharmacy, said pharmacists were "readily accessible members of the health professional team" who dealt with a variety of health queries from the public.

After completing a four-year BPharm, pharmacy graduates had to satisfactorily complete a year-long pharmacy internship before they could be registered to practise, Prof Tucker said. Further efforts were also required to maintain an annual practising certificate.

Although considerable sacrifice was required, many pharmacists were opting to undertake postgraduate study, including for a postgraduate diploma in clinical pharmacy, through the Otago distance learning system, he said.

Hani Al-Salami is not the only pharmacist in his family- his brother, Hesham Al-Salami, is an Otago pharmacy lecturer.



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