NMMU is working with technical and vocational education and training students to help them achieve a two-year pharmacy technician certificate.
NMMU is the only university in South Africa accredited to offer the pharmacy technician (TVET) certificate programme, accredited by both the Department of Higher Education and the Pharmacy Council.
NMMU pharmacy lecturer Teri Lynne Fogarty said: “To become a pharmacy technician is a strong career option. Medicine supply management is a major focus area in all pharmacies, hospitals and clinics.”
To help TVET students attain the qualification, NMMU has been working with Eastcape Midlands College students.
They are part of a pilot group who will complete the National Certificate (Vocational) Primary Health this year.
They have expressed interested in pursuing the two-year Higher Certificate in Pharmacy Support at NMMU.
Health science faculty strategic projects coordinator Dr Pumela Tabata said: “This pilot is part of NMMU’s project ‘transforming health sciences education to support equity in health’.”
One of the project’s objectives is geared towards the articulation of TVET qualifications to a range of health sciences qualifications at NMMU.
The engineering faculty has already achieved this with the articulation of TVET students with NCV engineering qualifications into diplomas at NMMU.
This articulation approach to further learning is critical for many TVET students who find themselves with a certificate but without the required level of training for posts.
NMMU has had two classes of pharmacy technicians graduating.
In 2014, 50 graduated and last year 75.
The incoming TVET students will add to these numbers and NMMU will eventually register up to 120 students a year.
Pharmacy technicians are qualified to manage primary health care dispensaries and are invaluable to pharmacists as they perform the more technical tasks in a pharmacy.
This frees pharmacists to supervise several dispensaries at a time.
Fogarty said: “There is much opportunity for change in the pharmacy field in South Africa.”