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Interview with AIM Member - Dr Peter Jewesson, Qatar University College of Pharmacy

16 March 2011
Interview with AIM Member -  Dr Peter Jewesson, Qatar University College of Pharmacy

Recently, FIP had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Peter Jewesson, Dean of the Qatar University College of Pharmacy regarding the school’s Canadian accreditation as well as the upcoming introduction of Masters and Doctors of Pharmacy degrees.

Qatar University College of Pharmacy is a fairly new college which accepted its first class into the Bachelor of Pharmacy program in September 2007. Qatar is the first university off Canadian soil to formally apply for accreditation through the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) and was awarded the status of Provisional Accreditation in January of 2009. CCAPP is the official pharmacy program accreditation agency in Canada and Qatar is the only international school to receive accreditation to date. 

Dr. Jewesson received his undergraduate and postgraduate training from the University of British Columbia and spent over 20 years as a researcher, academic and practitioner in Canada.  As such, he was familiar with Canadian pharmacy curriculums and had a good sense of the requirements needed to meet accreditation standards.  Dr. Jewesson explains that he had the opportunity to design a new program and curriculum that addressed many of the shortcomings he saw in the Canadian curriculum, while he was at the University of British Columbia.  During the initial phases of the program, the school had to work hard to sell the profession to prospective students. However, Qatar University now has 200 students in pre-pharmacy from which they select 25 each year to form the pharmacy class.

There were several reasons why the Qatar College of Pharmacy sought Canadian accreditation.  First and foremost, it was important to create a program that would provide graduating students with a degree that would be recognized in other countries.  In addition, there were approximately eighty schools of pharmacy in the Middle East and a new college of pharmacy would need to offer something different than competing schools of the region; a stronger curriculum with North American accreditation would serve this purpose.  Accreditation from a different country would also hold the school to a more objective and less biased set of standards, as Qatar’s College of Pharmacy is held to the same accreditation standards as Canadian schools.

Dr. Jewesson anticipates that the CCAPP accreditation will improve current pharmacy practice standards in Qatar. The average level of pharmacy practice in Qatar is lower than in Canada, however he maintains that there are many exemplary sites in Qatar with high standards of practice equalling or rivalling Canadian sites.  When Dr. Jewesson first arrived in Qatar, there were no pharmacy faculties and no societies or associations representing a common voice for pharmacy.  This lack of leadership meant that the level of pharmacy practice in Qatar was falling behind the levels practiced in other countries.  To account for these differences and to accommodate students on their Structured Practical Experiences in Pharmacy (SPEP) rotations, the College of Pharmacy is very selective in choosing appropriate practice sites in order to ensure that students are exposed to the highest levels of care that meet the standards set out by CCAPP.  Compared to Canadian institutes, Qatar’s College of Pharmacy boasts an extremely favourable student to teacher ratio of six students for every professor or lecturer.  This enables the school to focus on quality rather than quantity.

As a testament to the challenges that pharmacy has faced and overcome in the country, the Dean notes that the Qatar Pharmacist Society will have its first meeting in March.  While many other countries have well established pharmacy associations, this is the first pharmacy society in Qatar.

Dr. Jewesson shared some advice for other international institutions seeking CCAPP accreditation, recommending that schools only apply if they believe the likelihood of success is very high.  In addition, he mentions that once accredited, schools must be prepared to maintain the standards and have a lifelong relationship with CCAPP.

This fall, the college is launching a new Doctor of Pharmacy program.  This will be available as a full-time one year program to students with a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Qatar University.  The reason that the full-time program is open only to Qatar graduates is because the design of this final year is predicated by the first five years of the Bachelor program.  This allows the students to receive a doctorate following six years of studies similar to the standard entry-level PharmD in the United States.  The school will also offer a part time Doctor of Pharmacy that will be open to students with Bachelor degrees from other institutes provided they meet certain requirements.  Practicing pharmacists in Qatar have expressed enthusiasm regarding the new programs and are very keen to augment their qualifications with additional training.

The college has recently hosted their first international students and is very keen to establish collaborative relationships with groups from all over the world.  Dr. Jewesson believes that these relationships can help break down some of the barriers between different cultures and religions that are often based on ignorance.  The College of Pharmacy’s faculty and students come from 25 different countries and Dr. Jewesson is proud of the global perspective this provides and stresses the importance of interdependence and diversity as well as culturally sensitive medicine.

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