Pharmacy students at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, show a significant interest in pursuing scientific research and academic careers, potentially transforming the future of healthcare education and research in the country. A comprehensive survey conducted among these students has revealed promising attitudes that could shape the development of stronger academic and research foundations in the region.

The study, published in the “Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal,” aimed to assess the attitudes of pharmacy students towards scientific research and the inclination for academic careers. Here we explore the detailed findings and implications of this critical research, with the understanding that fostering such attitudes is fundamental for advancing the pharmaceutical field and healthcare services.

DOI: 10.1016/j.jsps.2019.01.015

Understanding the Study’s Reach and Potential

The cross-sectional survey was carried out from January to March 2018, encompassing a significant student base within the College of Pharmacy at King Saud University. With 223 students providing insight into their perspectives, the results are a valuable reflection of future healthcare professionals’ engagement with research.

The general sentiment among students was overwhelmingly positive towards research activities. About 66.3% of those surveyed agreed that participating in research piqued their interest in a career within research or academia. Furthermore, a substantial majority (75.3%) expressed an eagerness to partake in research during their educational journey. It is worth noting that 73.6% of the students believe that research training is not optional but should be an integral part of the curriculum.

The findings suggested that the students’ interest in higher studies, such as Ph.D. programs, was also significant, with more than half (54.5%) considering furthering their education after graduation. When choosing a specialty, lifestyle factors and earning potential were considered important by 73.6% and 70.3% of the students, respectively.

Breaking Down the Barriers to Enhanced Research Engagement

While the attitudes were positive, the study also acknowledged the importance of addressing the barriers that might hinder students from engaging more deeply in research and academic endeavors. By understanding these challenges and actively working to mitigate them, the gap between student interest and actual research involvement can be narrowed.

Raising the Bar for Research in Pharmacy Education

These findings echo those from similar studies conducted globally, highlighting an emerging trend where pharmacy and medical students are more disposed to incorporate research as a part of their careers. Institutions that acknowledge this trend and facilitate it by incorporating research training and opportunities into their curriculum stand to create a more scientifically engaged and capable group of healthcare professionals.

A Push Toward a Research-Oriented Pharmacy Curriculum

As per the American College of Clinical Pharmacy’s standards of practice for clinical pharmacy, integrating research-based learning and experiences in the pharmacy curriculum is critical for the development of competent clinical pharmacists. The study’s results suggest that King Saud University is on the correct path, with its students showing a marked interest in research and higher learning.

Implications for the Future of Pharmaceutical Services

The inclination of students towards research and academic careers presents an opportunity for the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia to nurture homegrown researchers who can contribute significantly to the scientific community. The integration of research in pharmacy education will not only benefit the students but also the broader community by fostering innovations and improvements in pharmaceutical care.

Cultivating World-Class Educators and Researchers

Highlighted within the breadth of data, the intention to pursue an academic career among pharmacy students suggests that the future of Saudi Arabia’s pharmaceutical education will be shaped by individuals who not only practice pharmacy but also contribute to its academic and research evolution.

References

1. Al-Arifi, M. N. (2019). Attitudes of pharmacy students towards scientific research and academic career in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 27(4), 517-520. doi: 10.1016/j.jsps.2019.01.015

2. American College of Clinical Pharmacy. (2018). Standards of practice for clinical pharmacy. Retrieved March 7, 2018, from https://www.accp.com/docs/positions/guidelines/standardsofpractice.pdf

3. Daly, C. (2013). Encouraging community pharmacists to become more involved in research. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 291, 159.

4. Lowrie, R., Morrison, G., Lees, R., Grant, C. H., Johnson, C., MacLean, F., … Mullen, A. B. (2015). Research is ‘a step into the unknown’: An exploration of pharmacists’ perceptions of factors impacting on research participation in the NHS. BMJ Open, 5(12), e009180. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009180

5. Siemens, D. R., Punnen, S., Wong, J., & Kanji, N. (2010). A survey on the attitude towards research in medical school. BMC Medical Education, 10, 4. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-10-4

Keywords

1. Pharmacy students research attitude
2. Saudi Arabia pharmacy education
3. Scientific research in healthcare
4. Academic careers in pharmacy
5. Research training pharmaceutical students

Conclusion

This study provides a significant foundation for understanding the positive attitudes of pharmacy students in Saudi Arabia towards scientific research and academic careers. As institutions continue to foster these attitudes and provide the appropriate platforms for engagement, the roadmap to a modernized, research-driven pharmaceutical education and industry becomes increasingly tangible. With continued support and refinement of educational strategies, the next generation of pharmacy professionals could lead Saudi Arabia, and indeed the wider region, to the forefront of healthcare research and innovation.