THE Department of Pharmacy at the University of Huddersfield is embedding environmental sustainability principles into the pharmacy degree curriculum and is urging other pharmacy educators to follow suit after the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) issued a declaration of climate and ecological emergency, last month.
Dr Alison Astles, Subject Leader in Pharmacy and a member of the University’s Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice Research Centre, has played a key role in the ‘greening’ the University’s MPharm curriculum with the aim of delivering future pharmacists who will be best placed and ready to play their part in fighting climate change.
Dr Astles said what students needed to learn with regards to pharmacy and sustainability was already present within the University’s MPharm curriculum, it just needed refocusing through an environmental lens.
“Mitigating climate impact will need everyone to deliver change, and our future pharmacists have to be prepared to lead that change as part of their duty to the patient,” she said.
“As part of the global effort and also particularly the NHS NetZero effort that's topical at the moment, we have decided to map our curriculum against an environmental sustainability strand to make it explicit to students, which is something we haven't done before. We feel that our undergraduates need to be as prepared as they can be on environmental sustainability because medicines are a huge contributor to environmental issues.”
Dr Alison Astles, University of Huddersfield.
In their statement the RPS noted that, “pharmacists and the pharmacy team have a clear role to play in combating climate change” and that medicines, “are responsible for 25% of the NHS’s carbon emissions”.
“As a Department of Pharmacy,” explained Dr Astles, "we now have the responsibility of developing pharmacy graduates that understand environmental sustainability principles and who will be in a position, when they go out into the workplace, to keep that frame of mind and take it forward aiding the NHS’s plans for years to come in terms of reducing our carbon footprint.” she said.
“As part of the global effort and also particularly the NHS NetZero effort that's topical at the moment, we have decided to map our curriculum against an environmental sustainability strand to make it explicit to students, which is something we haven't done before.
“We feel that our undergraduates need to be as prepared as they can be on environmental sustainability because medicines are a huge contributor to environmental issues,” she added.
Same principles can be used to update a wide range of curricula
Dr Astles believes the same process can also be carried out by other departments across the University and urges anyone with an interest to get in contact as the same principles can be used to update numerous curricula.
Earlier this year Dr Astles was named a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and is one of the highest honours that can be bestowed on a member.
It recognises the distinction members have attained in a particular aspect or aspects of their pharmacy career. As Fellowships are based on nominations from members, it also signifies the high esteem in which members are held by their peers and is a mark of real achievement.
Dr Astles is part of a growing movement of environmentally conscious Pharmacy professionals calling for Climate/Health Action, Leadership & Education known as ‘Pharmacy Declares!’. To find out more visit their Twitter profile page.
RPS President Claire Anderson said: “It’s more important than ever that we turn words into action and become more sustainable, and this applies to everyone. As individual practitioners, and collectively as a profession, we must identify where we can make changes in our practice to reduce carbon emissions.”
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