New suite is the perfect prescription for pharmacy students

A new teaching lab that uses state-of-the-art technology to teach future pharmacists how to prescribe and dispense medicines safely was officially opened by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glynis Breakwell, on Tuesday 19 January.

The laboratory, situated on Level 1 of 5 West, is set up like a real pharmacy, with a dispensary and patient consulting rooms. Each student will be assigned a set of fictitious patients, each with medication records that the student can use to decide which medicines may be prescribed and dispensed safely.

The new laboratory includes five pharmacy consulting rooms, where students are filmed whilst role-playing encounters with patients, played by teaching staff or professional actors. This will give students valuable feedback as to how well they communicate with patients.

Finally, the lab also has a consulting room, similar to that found in a GP's surgery, where students can practise diagnosing conditions of SimMan 3G - a life-like robotic patient that can be programmed to have a range of medical conditions.

Whilst SimMan 3G is widely used for training doctors in medical school, Bath is one of the first pharmacy departments to own one.

SimMan 3G can be examined for pulse, blood pressure and lung function, and responds to different medicines and dosages in a similar way to that of a real human.

The Vice-Chancellor takes the pulse of SimMan, the new model patient that students will use to practise performing medical examinations

The Vice-Chancellor takes the pulse of SimMan, the new model patient that students will use to practise performing medical examinations

Head of Pharmacy Practice Professor Marjorie Weiss said: "The role of the pharmacist is changing significantly. They are increasingly offering more patient-facing services such as giving medical advice to patients, and prescribing medicines.

"This calls on the pharmacist's clinical and communication skills - they might have to explain a medicine-taking routine to a patient who has limited understanding of their condition, or the patient might have other unrelated issues, such as depression, that the pharmacist can help with."

Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research Professor Jane Millar added: "Pharmacy practice has made great advances over recent years, and to match these advances we must provide excellent facilities in which to teach our students.

"This new state-of-the-art pharmacy practice suite will ensure that University of Bath pharmacists have the best possible vocational education to equip them to meet the needs of their profession."

The lab was set up with funding from the Wolfson Foundation and the University's Alumni Fund.

Click the picture below to watch a video of SimMan in action.

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