FOR a student with a Diploma in Pharmacy, a three-year course towards a pharmacy degree (B.Pharm ) locally sounds like a battle.
When I was in my first year diploma studies in 2008, I made detailed enquiries about doing the B.Pharm. I was told that I could skip the first three semesters (each semester is six months) if I obtained a grade point average of 3.8 (out of CGPA 4.0 ) and above.
At the end of last year, in my final year of my diploma course, the Pharmacy Board decided to upgrade the requirements to pursue the B.Pharm. For diploma students, the CGPA was raised to 3.85 and above. But now, even with a high CGPA, diploma students must complete the four-year B.Pharm in full for a degree.
This is upsetting news. Aren't we entitled to skip the first year? We spent three years and more than RM60,000 to study a related field. And it seems there is little use in advancing to a degree programme. Compare us with students with Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia or A-level or Foundation in Science, who spend less than RM20,000 for 11/2 years, and have no idea what pharmacy is about.
I pray the Pharmacy Board will look into this matter as the increase in the number of years will not only affect us in terms of course duration but also financially. More years of study mean more financial outlay, although partial Higher Education Fund Corporation loans are given.
PSD replied ....
THE Pharmaceutical Services Division of the Health Ministry would like to thank B.S. of Ipoh for highlighting the difficulties faced by pharmacy diploma students in pursuing a pharmacy degree ("Raw deal for diploma students" -- NST, March 9).
While we sympathise with the writer, the entry requirement of students from all streams (diploma, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia and A Levels) into a pharmacy degree programme is stringent to ensure that the standards and quality of pharmacy graduates are maintained.
As the syllabus during the first two years of the Degree in Pharmacy programme comprises technical subjects such as Pharmacotherapy, Pharmaceutical Analysis, Advanced Organic Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Technology, Clinical Pharmacy and Toxicology, students who do not undergo these two years will not be able to cope during the third and final year of studies.
The aforementioned subjects are not covered during the three years of a Diploma in Pharmacy programme, as this programme is tailored to produce qualified and trained pharmacy assistants who will carry out cognitive tasks under the direct supervision of pharmacists.
As for students with STPM and A Level qualifications, only those from the pure science stream with good grades are accepted as they would have a good grasp of biology, physical and organic chemistry and mathematics.
The Guidelines on the Approval and Recognition of Pharmacy Degree Programme were enforced by the Pharmacy Board Malaysia in 2007 and there have been no changes to the entry requirements for the Degree in Pharmacy programme. [The Appendix Guideline can be seen HERE]
For Diploma of Science holders, the guidelines state that the minimum entry requirement for the Degree in Pharmacy is a CGPA of 3.8. No credit transfer is allowed to the diploma holders for the purpose of pursuing the Degree in Pharmacy and no exemptions are given.
The guidelines are available for viewing on the homepage of the Pharmaceutical Services Division -- www.pharmacy.gov.my
For further enquiries or clarification, please contact the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia at 03-78413200 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.