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Guest blog by Nash Mazaran…First Year pharmacy student

Nash Mazaran
Nash Mazaran

is my first contribution and I hope it won’t be the last. I want to raise awareness of a student finance support rule which may affect some prospective pharmacy students that have studied before, and are considering a career change into pharmacy. I fell victim to the rule two months into my studies and would like others to avoid the setback. Also, I would like to spark some debate on why pharmacy is like the black sheep of healthcare professions.

The Equivalent and Lower Qualification (ELQ) student support regulation states that students studying for a second degree at a UK university are ineligible for financial support. This is regardless of whether they paid for their first degree privately, or if it was attained outside the United Kingdom. The move is meant to avail scarce financial resources to first time students of higher education. There are some degree programs which are exempt from this rule: engineering, computer science, veterinary medicine, and all the main protected healthcare professions that receive NHS funding.

To my amazement, pharmacy is not part of that special list, despite the important role it plays in healthcare delivery. Perhaps there is an oversupply of pharmacists or the government just simply does not recognise the sterling work pharmacists do everyday. Pharmacists possess untapped potential that can be harnessed to deliver great patient outcomes in primary care. The emergence of GP pharmacists as well as pharmacists performing similar roles to physician associates is a clear indication that they are part of a multidisciplinary team.  

I strongly believe there are great advantages for pharmacists who have backgrounds in other allied healthcare professions. For example, a microbiologist retraining as a pharmacist will be beneficial from a public health perspective. Some may argue that there are few people who want to cross the divide, but I believe the option and support should be made available to those who want to switch. Most student nurses have studied prior first degrees in other unrelated areas and get full support. I wish the government will stop cherry picking and give support to all the relevant sectors of NHS. Those from other professions interested in becoming pharmacists should be encouraged and not hindered by the ELQ rule. 

Moving on, it has been hard to ignore the doom and gloom surrounding the debate on the future of pharmacy. For the next generation of pharmacists, the planned funding cuts casts a huge shadow of uncertainty. In the current political climate, studying pharmacy as a second degree with no financial support is a huge ask. Many a time I have thought of quitting, as I shudder when I think this may be another wasted £36,000 on tuition. I trust the older generation of esteemed pharmacists will not let community pharmacy die slowly with the pending cuts.

I really enjoy this blog and I’m grateful for everyone who contributes to it. It is inspirational, educational and thought provoking! I remain hopeful that pharmacy will evolve, adapt and stand the test of time.

Nash Mazaran is a first year pharmacy student at Manchester School of Pharmacy

Follow Nash @NMazaran

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