COVID-19 VACCINATIONS: If, in addition to indemnity for your main employment, you would like cover for delivering COVID-19 Vaccinations please apply for our standalone extension Apply Today

Home  »   Coronavirus (COVID-19)Member VoiceLatest NewsPDA Students   »   How the coronavirus crisis has impacted on pharmacy students – part 3

How the coronavirus crisis has impacted on pharmacy students – part 3

In the third instalment of our ‘coronavirus and its impact on pharmacy students’ series, we talk to Jagraj Thandi, a final year MPharm student at Birmingham University. Find out about Jagrag’s experiences and why he decided to join the PDA and become a union rep.

Thu 9th July 2020 The PDA

When lockdown started, we had completed most of our project work; the main difficulty was that we still had exams and a couple of presentations to do. There was a lot of uncertainty leading up to exams and with our coursework because we had to adjust to working online. You need to have an assessment in place to test fourth-year students and academic members of staff had to make sure it was in-line with GPhC standards.

The university quickly redesigned parts of the course and changed the exam to open book. Some assessments had to be almost completely redesigned. The OSCE’s had to be redesigned into more of a VIVA – more like an interview than a clinical case. The university was prompt with the organising and restructuring of it, they saw all the students within a week, so no one was at a disadvantage. They’ve been quite good at designing it in such a short space of time and reassuring students. They have also been good at thinking of the potential problems that could arise from the situation and dealing with things promptly, ensuring they don’t negatively impact the students.

Socially it’s been okay, there have been a lot of challenges during the crisis and new opportunities to engage with others involved in pharmacy from around the world.

To adapt to all the changes, we have had to use alternate modes of communication, like using social media more and video calls which I previously hadn’t really used. I’ve engaged more internationally with organisations like the European Pharmaceutical Students’ Association and the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation because I’ve had more time. It’s quite difficult normally to find the time to fit everything in, particularly with time zone differences for some of the webinars.

“It’s tough and challenging now, but if we do it together then it seems less daunting.”

Obviously, we can’t go out and socialise but there are other means of socialising. I suppose it’s about being a bit inventive and finding different ways of socialising with friends. Every week we had a session with my friendship group, a quiz or activity, so we socialise that way. We’re making the best out of a challenging situation. I’ve been engaging with friends and studying from a variety of courses – having a broad network and seeing how everyone is coping, is good.

Mental health is a big concern at the moment because everyone has had their lives impacted and, I feel it some days. I feel that you have to try and keep yourself active, find ways to engage yourself. It’s tough and challenging now, but if we do it together then it seems less daunting.

I’ve logged onto My GPhC and have been trying to fill out my GPhC application ready to start my pre-reg year. It has been delayed, but the GPhC, in my opinion, have been quick to deal with the situation and have come up with provisional registration for example, because that is the immediate concern. They have been open and transparent with pre-regs and we’ve been informed every step of the way.

“I think pharmacists should join the PDA because it’s great to have legal representation, advice and guidance when you need it, but also that element of social support and opportunities for networking.”

I got involved with the PDA after seeing their staff at various events including the PDA National Conference, open days, and university workshops. I wanted to promote them as an organisation and make sure my peers take advantage of the PDA membership, especially as it is free for students.

The PDA workshops in universities are good; usually, I’m on the receiving end but I got a chance to step behind the scenes and see how they are organised and implemented. It was great to present cases for the workshop and then step back. Normally, I’d be participating but it’s completely different when you’re the ‘judge’. It was an interactive workshop which gives an awareness of different perspectives, like as the GPhC rather than just from a pharmacy student view.

I attended the national conference last year and helped with workshops at the university. I attended the national student representative training days as well. I learned more about the PDA as an organisation.

I think pharmacists should join the PDA because it’s great to have legal representation, advice, and guidance when you need it, but also that element of social support and opportunities for networking. You can get help from Pharmacist Support as well, they are supported by the PDA, but the PDA is quite unique in that they offer social and legal support and they work to improve the pharmacy sector.

Students at the university know more about the PDA now. They know it’s free and it’s there for our protection. The student rep role really helps to promote the PDA within universities. I think it has been beneficial because more members and students are getting involved with the PDA now.

This year, if you were a PDA Student Representative you were invited to attend the two-day PDA National Conference and evening networking dinner. I was able to invite a friend to come along, we were both looking forward to the event in March and unfortunately, due to COVID-19, it had to be cancelled. We were especially looking forward to international speakers and meeting PDA colleagues.

I’m looking forward to the year ahead as a pre-reg and staying involved with the PDA.


By Jagraj Thandi 


Get involved

To join the PDA today, visit:

Register your interest in becoming a PDA rep

If you are a student, pre-reg or provisional registration pharmacist and would like to find out how you can become a PDA rep, please complete the below form to express your interest and a member of our Organising & Engagement Team will get back to you.

Related links


The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

Cookie Use

This website uses cookies to help us provide the best user experience. If you continue browsing you are giving your consent to our use of cookies.

General Guidance Resources Surveys PDA Campaigns Regulations Locums Indemnity Arrangements Pre-Regs & Students FAQs Coronavirus (COVID-19)