Pharmaceutical Education and Employment Opportunities Are on the Ascent

What are the usual professional responsibilities of pharmacists? Well, they dispense medicine prescribed by the physicians, in the first place. Also they are responsible to give the customers knowledgeable advice regarding the possible side effects and dosage of the medications to be administered. In case the patient should be made aware of the necessity to take certain precautions to be observed during the course of medications, a pharmacist is responsible for informing the patience about such precautions, if any are needed. Such are the most common responsibilities of pharmacists, as they are widely assumed by the general public. Still, as any licensed pharmacist can tell you, the responsibilities are not limited to those mentioned above. First of all, any licensed pharmacist is required to have a degree in pharmacology. Secondly, such specialist should be aware of the various medicines, their generic name, dosage and possible side effects. Besides the good professional understanding of the regulating legislature related to manufacture and sale of various medicines any good professional pharmacist must command sound understanding and knowledge of the composition of medicines. And that is not all, such issues as the right storage conditions for the medicines are of critical importance, since the efficiency of prescription medications during the period of their shelf life largely depends on the correctness of their storage conditions!

As you see, any licensed pharmacist has a long road of learning to go before been accepted as a fully-fledged and respected member of the pharmacists community! But the natural questions are “How good are the employment opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry today? But what do the forecasts for the near future hold in stock for pharmacists? Is it really worthwhile to invest time and hard-earned money into becoming a professional pharmacist?” All these question are quite justified, since nobody would like to send time and money down the drain, investing them into professional specialization that turns out to be without future.

Let us have a closer look at the present-day employment opportunities of freshly graduated pharmacists and the expectations for the near future.

As has been confirmed by the various reports of analytical agencies specializing in the job-market related issues, the pharmacist’s specialization enjoys quite enviable demand. Traditionally, the most of the pharmacists still find employment with community pharmacies and drug stores, as they used to do over the decades. Well, that is no surprise, people got used to seen a pharmacists behind the counter of a drug-store or a pharmacy, handing out the prescription medicines as well as those that do not require prescription (they are justly referred to by the term of “over-the-counter” medicines). On the other hand, during the last decade the professional pharmacists have been in huge demand in public service and pharmaceutical industry. Hospitals, railways, large shopping centers and airports – they all look for good professionals in the field to fill in vacancies in their specialized their drug stores. Another interesting job opportunity for pharmacists could be found with medical drug information libraries and consulting, since the medical and nursing staffs are in need of information about new drugs – the industry of medications is constantly advancing, coming up each month and year with new generations of medications. Many specialists in pharmacology who graduated as pharmacists have developed successful and self-fulfilling careers, finding employment as tutors in colleges and universities. Others prefer to write or edit books of pharmacology, as well as reference guides – as you see, the employment and career opportunities in the pharmacology industry are in plenty!

What about the forecasts and expectations for the near future? The demand for professionals in the pharmacology in general and for the pharmacists in particular is expected only to grow considerably during the period through 2016 and beyond. The reasons for such forecasts are well-grounded. The population will continue growing in numbers – and the numbers of hospitals and other health care establishments are destined to grow accordingly, to accommodate the increasing demand. That means that more and more pharmacists will be required to fill in new outlets and positions – in traditional drug-stores, in hospitals and related job settings. Secondly, the number of senior citizens is also expected to grow considerably. Senior citizens of all the aged population groups are known to be the main consumers of prescription and “over-the-counter” drugs. As the result, the demand for specialists able to handle the growing demand on the part of the patients is guaranteed to increase over the practically foreseeable future period.

What are the usual education and certification requirements for those whishing to take up a career as pharmacists?

The educational and certification demands for pharmacists are very definite and strict. All persons, whishing to build a career of pharmacists are required to have a degree from a college (associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s one), upon which they need to get licensed by the pertinent agency in order to start a professional career of a licensed pharmacist. Besides, the educational establishment they have gradated from should be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education and Examinations. Such are the basic mandatory requirements for a professional licensed pharmacist, wishing to start up a successful career in the industry.

Besides the specific subjects, related to pharmacist’s specialization, any accredited pharmacy degree program should usually include courses in mathematics, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

As you see, the academic requirements for the pharmacology students are noticeably high. In order to insure the adequate level of academic excellence among their student the majority of the pharmacy colleges have introduced admission tests for aspiring students.

The students, whishing to continue education – as well as those who have already some experience in the professional field and are after the better career opportunities – are offered continuing education options, such as bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as doctorates in various specialized areas of pharmaceutical industries.

One of the good options for busy working professionals to continue education and get a higher academic degree in pharmacology would be to make use of modern means of distance education – the online pharmacy degree training schools and programs. Those online establishments – surely, we are speaking about the reputable and properly accredited courses, nothing like some shady “diploma mill” sites – have proved to be a good competition to the traditional, campus-based ones.

Another consideration to be given a serious attention and thought – as far as career advancement in pharmacology and pharmacy industry is concerned – is that your success would largely depend on the type of work you will be able to get and your business talents/skills/experience. As an illustration to this statement you could easily find online the career stories of success: for instance, people who worked for drugstore chains became top-managers. Pharmacists employed at various hospitals – general or specialized – got to be directors of pharmacy services. The government agencies and educational institutions also offer interesting and promising openings. Pharmacy degree specialist could also build excellent careers by taking up teaching or research, that all depends on your personal talents, individual inclinations, career objectives etc. Anyway, besides the required level of academic excellence, necessary for each specific position, any newly graduated pharmacist should realize that their jobs always require them to communicate and interact with people of different types. From this point of view good person-to-person communication skills would always be a great advantage, so take care to acquire them by all means!

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Teacher Education and Teacher Quality


One of the sectors which fosters national development is education by ensuring the development of a functional human resource. The institution of strong educational structures leads to a society populated by enlightened people, who can cause positive economic progress and social transformation. A Positive social transformation and its associated economic growth are achieved as the people apply the skills they learned while they were in school. The acquisition of these skills is facilitated by one individual we all ‘teacher’. For this reason, nations seeking economic and social developments need not ignore teachers and their role in national development.

Teachers are the major factor that drives students’ achievements in learning. The performance of teachers generally determines, not only, the quality of education, but the general performance of the students they train. The teachers themselves therefore ought to get the best of education, so they can in turn help train students in the best of ways. It is known, that the quality of teachers and quality teaching are some of the most important factors that shape the learning and social and academic growth of students. Quality training will ensure, to a large extent, teachers are of very high quality, so as to be able to properly manage classrooms and facilitate learning. That is why teacher quality is still a matter of concern, even, in countries where students consistently obtain high scores in international exams, such as Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). In such countries, teacher education of prime importance because of the potential it has to cause positive students’ achievements.

The structure of teacher education keeps changing in almost all countries in response to the quest of producing teachers who understand the current needs of students or just the demand for teachers. The changes are attempts to ensure that quality teachers are produced and sometimes just to ensure that classrooms are not free of teachers. In the U.S.A, how to promote high quality teachers has been an issue of contention and, for the past decade or so, has been motivated, basically, through the methods prescribed by the No Child Left Behind Act (Accomplished California Teachers, 2015). Even in Japan and other Eastern countries where there are more teachers than needed, and structures have been instituted to ensure high quality teachers are produced and employed, issues relating to the teacher and teaching quality are still of concern (Ogawa, Fujii & Ikuo, 2013). Teacher education is therefore no joke anywhere. This article is in two parts. It first discusses Ghana’s teacher education system and in the second part looks at some determinants of quality teaching.


Ghana has been making deliberate attempts to produce quality teachers for her basic school classrooms. As Benneh (2006) indicated, Ghana’s aim of teacher education is to provide a complete teacher education program through the provision of initial teacher training and in-service training programs, that will produce competent teachers, who will help improve the effectiveness of the teaching and learning that goes on in schools. The Initial teacher education program for Ghana’s basic school teachers was offered in Colleges of Education (CoE) only, until quite recently when, University of Education, University of Cape Coast, Central University College and other tertiary institutions joined in. The most striking difference between the programs offered by the other tertiary institution is that while the Universities teach, examine and award certificates to their students, the Colleges of Education offer tuition while the University of Cape Coast, through the Institute of Education, examines and award certificates. The training programs offered by these institutions are attempts at providing many qualified teachers to teach in the schools. The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher training programs in order to ensure quality.

The National Accreditation Board accredits teacher education programs based on the structure and content of the courses proposed by the institution. Hence, the courses run by various institutions differ in content and structure. For example, the course content for the Institute of Education, University of Cape Coast is slightly different from the course structure and content of the Center for Continue Education, University of Cape Coast and none of these two programs matches that of the CoEs, though they all award Diploma in Basic Education (DBE) after three years of training. The DBE and the Four-year Untrained Teacher’s Diploma in Basic Education (UTDBE) programs run by the CoEs are only similar, but not the same. The same can be said of the Two-year Post-Diploma in Basic Education, Four-year Bachelor’s degree programs run by the University of Cape Coast, the University of Education, Winneba and the other Universities and University Colleges. In effect even though, same products attract same clients, the preparation of the products are done in different ways.

It is through these many programs that teachers are prepared for the basic schools – from nursery to senior high schools. Alternative pathways, or programs through which teachers are prepared are seen to be good in situations where there are shortages of teachers and more teachers ought to be trained within a very short time. A typical example is the UTDBE program, mentioned above, which design to equip non-professional teachers with professional skills. But this attempt to produce more teachers, because of shortage of teachers, has the tendency of comprising quality.

As noted by Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) the factors that contribute to the problems of teacher education and teacher retention are varied and complex, but one factor that teacher educators are concerned about is the alternative pathways through which teacher education occur. The prime aim of many of the pathways is to fast track teachers into the teaching profession. This short-changed the necessary teacher preparation that prospective teachers need before becoming classroom teachers. Those who favor alternative routes, like Teach for America (TFA), according to Xiaoxia, Heeju, Nicci and Stone (2010) have defended their alternative pathways by saying that even though the students are engaged in a short-period of pre-service training, the students are academically brilliant and so have the capacity to learn a lot in a short period. Others argue that in subjects like English, Science and mathematics where there are usually shortages of teachers, there must be a deliberate opening up of alternative pathways to good candidates who had done English, Mathematics and Science courses at the undergraduate level. None of these arguments in support of alternative pathways, hold for the alternative teacher education programs in Ghana, where the academically brilliant students shun teaching due to reasons I shall come to.

When the target is just to fill vacant classrooms, issues of quality teacher preparation is relegated to the background, somehow. Right at the selection stage, the alternative pathways ease the requirement for gaining entry into teacher education programs. When, for example, the second batch of UTDBE students were admitted, I can say with confidence that entry requirements into the CoEs were not adhered to. What was emphasized was that, the applicant must be a non-professional basic school teacher who has been engaged by the Ghana Education Service, and that the applicant holds a certificate above Basic Education Certificate Examination. The grades obtained did not matter. If this pathway had not been created, the CoEs would not have trained students who initially did not qualify to enroll in the regular DBE program. However, it leaves in its trail the debilitating effect compromised quality.

Even with regular DBE programs, I have realized, just recently I must say, that CoEs in, particular, are not attracting the candidates with very high grades. This as I have learnt now has a huge influence on both teacher quality and teacher effectiveness. The fact is, teacher education programs in Ghana are not regarded as prestigious programs and so applicants with high grades do not opt for education programs. And so the majority of applicants who apply for teacher education programs have, relatively, lower grades. When the entry requirement for CoEs’ DBE program for 2016/2017 academic year was published, I noticed the minimum entry grades had been dropped from C6 to D8 for West African Senior Secondary School Examination candidates. This drop in standard could only be attributed to CoEs’ attempt to attract more applicants. The universities too, lower their cut off point for education programs so as attract more candidates. The universities as alleged by Levine (2006) see their teacher education programs, so to say, as cash cows. Their desire to make money, force them to lower admission standards, like the CoEs have done, in order to increase their enrollments. The fact that, admission standards are internationally lowered in order to achieve a goal of increasing numbers. This weak recruitment practice or lowering of standards introduce a serious challenge to teacher education.

The Japanese have been able to make teacher education and teaching prestigious and therefor attract students with high grades. One may argue that in Japan, the supply of teachers far exceeds the demand and so authorities are not under any pressure to hire teachers. Their system won’t suffer if they do all they can to select higher grade student into teacher education programs. To them, the issues relating to the selection of teachers are more important that the issues relating to recruitment. However, in western and African countries the issues relating to recruitment are prime. It is so because the demand for teachers far outweighs that of supply. Western and African countries have difficulties recruiting teachers because teachers and the teaching profession is not held in high esteem. Teacher education programs therefore do not attract students who have very good grades. It is worth noting that, it is not the recruiting procedure only that determines whether or not teacher education will be prestigious, however recruiting candidates with high grades, ensures that after training, teachers will exhibit the two characteristics essential to effective teaching – quality and effectiveness. Teacher education can be effective if the teaching profession is held in high esteem and therefore able to attract the best of applicants. Otherwise, irrespective of incentives put into place to attract applicants and irrespective of the measures that will be put in place to strengthen teacher education, teacher education programs cannot fully achieve its purpose.

In order to strengthen teacher preparation, there is the need for teacher preparation programs to provide good training during the initial teacher training stage, and provide and sustain support during the first few years after the teachers have been employed. That is why Lumpe (2007) supports the idea that pre-service teacher education programs should ensure teachers have gained a good understanding of effective teaching strategies. Methodology classes therefore should center on effective teaching strategies. Irrespective of the pathway the training program takes, the program must be structured such that trainees gain knowledge about pedagogy, besides the knowledge of subject matter. They should also get enough exposure to practical classroom experience like the on-campus and off-campus teaching practice. Whether or not there is the need to fill vacancies in the classroom due to the high teacher attrition, many countries face, teacher preparation programs should aim at producing quality and effective teacher and not just filling vacancies.


Teacher quality has such enormous influence on students’ learning. Anyone who has been in the teaching business will agree that teacher quality is central to education reform efforts. Priagula, Agam & Solmon (2007) described teacher quality as an important in-school factor that impact significantly on students’ learning. Quality teachers have positive impact on the success of students. Where the students have quality and effective teachers the students make learning gains while those with ineffective teachers show declines. With respect to the classroom teacher, teacher quality is a continuous process of doing self-assessment so as to have professional development and a self-renewal, in order to enhance teaching. For the teacher educator, an effective or quality teacher is one who has a good subject-matter and pedagogy knowledge, which the he/she can build upon.

Outstanding teachers possess and exhibit many exemplary qualities. They have the skills, subject matter, and pedagogy to reach every child. They help equip their students with the knowledge and breadth of awareness to make sound and independent judgments. Three determinants of teacher quality will be considered here. They are; pedagogical knowledge, subject-matter content knowledge and experience.


Trainees of every profession receive some sort of education that will give them insight into and prepare them for the task ahead. That of the teacher is called Pedagogical Content Knowledge or Pedagogical Knowledge. Pedagogical Content Knowledge can be described as, knowledge the teachers use in organizing classrooms, delivering the content the students must show mastery over and for managing the students entrusted into their care. Generally speaking, pedagogical knowledge is knowledge the teacher uses to facilitate students’ learning. Pedagogical Content Knowledge is in two major forms – teachers’ knowledge of the students’ pre-conceptions and teachers’ knowledge of teaching methodologies. Students come to class with a host of pre-conceptions relating to the things they are learning. The pre-conceptions may or may not be consistent with the actual subject-matter that is delivered. Teachers must have a good idea of both kinds of preconception, in order to help students, replace the inconsistent pre-conceptions or build upon the consistent pre-conceptions to bring about meaningful learning. Teachers must have a repertoire of teaching methodologies for facilitating students’ learning. When the methodologies are applied wrongly little or no learning occurs in students. In effect when either of the two is weak, the teacher becomes a bad one because that teacher will not be able to execute his/her responsibility in the vocation he/she has chosen. Due to this during teacher preparation, Pedagogical Content Knowledge is emphasized.

Teachers gain Pedagogical Content Knowl

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