PDA supports student members through misconduct allegations and other challenges

During the pandemic, the PDA has supported MPharm students, as record levels of enquiries from members are received including resolving issues relating to reasonable adjustments, examination processes, and an increase in misconduct allegations.

Thu 5th August 2021 The PDA

PDA student membership and the student representative network across pharmacy schools has grown rapidly in the last two years, as more and more students recognise the importance and value of PDA membership. Alongside the growth in this community there has been an increase in the volume and variety of support provided by the PDA including representative networks, campaigns, online events, training, individual representation, student e-newsletters and other communications.

A PDA Student Rep at De Montfort University said: “The PDA is a supportive community and has allowed me to learn many things about pharmacy, especially the legal aspects.”

The PDA has listened to and supported student members to ensure that their voices and the issues that they have raised have been heard by the regulator, universities, and the wider profession. Where individuals need extra help beyond the PDA’s services, PDA representatives and officials signpost members to specialist support.

Virtual learning

The rapid shift to online learning, revision and examinations, due to the pandemic has created new challenges for both university pharmacy schools and students. Well established practices of engagement, participation, and quality assurance required to ensure fairness and uphold the high standards set for the universities by both the regulators (GPhC and PSNI) and the profession have also moved into a virtual environment and this has not always been straightforward.

The PDA has supported numerous students with concerns about their online learning or examination arrangements, including those who needed to secure reasonable adjustments due to a disability.

Wellbeing

The pandemic has impacted on students’ mental health and well-being, isolation, remote online learning, distance lectures and online examinations. The student experience changed as the opportunities to develop and practice communication, personal and team working skills diminished.

For many, PDA membership has brought opportunities for MPharm students across all years to come together, network, share experiences and support one another and other pharmacist members. PDA Equality Diversity & Inclusion networks provide further networking opportunities.

The PDA also supports its charity partner Pharmacist Support by donating £1 per member every year, including for each PDA student member, even though the PDA do not charge students for membership. The PDA’s donations played a key part in supporting the charity’s ACT Now campaign which encourages individuals to:

  • Allow time for wellbeing
  • Consider the needs of others
  • Take action.
  • Now! You can start improving your health and wellbeing by signing up to the campaign today.

Development from PDA Education

Thousands of student members have attended webinars, online events and joined in support programmes through the PDA’s Education Hub during the pandemic. PDA Student Reps have also completed bespoke training programmes, developed their skills, networked and in turn have supported many other student members in their universities. Several have also attended the General Federation of Trade Union’s (GFTU) Young Member’s Development Weekend (learn more).

Alleged Misconduct

The move to online invigilation, the latest generation of plagiarism software and other detection and monitoring systems has resulted in more misconduct allegations. All universities have their own policies and procedures in relation to what constitutes academic misconduct including: plagiarism, cheating, collusion, inappropriate sharing of work, ethical issues, contracting, falsification and impersonation and additionally how it should be investigated and handled.

The PDA advises all MPharm students to make themselves aware of their university’s policy and procedures and the GPhC (or PSNI in Northern Ireland) regulator standards. The PDA and pharmacy schools are committed to ensuring a fair and just process for all students. However, these processes can still be highly stressful, and individuals may not know how to respond.

The support provided by the PDA helps students understand their rights and responsibilities in such a process and enables them to represent themselves in an appropriate manner.

The majority of students that the PDA has supported have had the opportunity to represent themselves in processes, including hearings and have had their appeals upheld.

Student feedback

One first-year pharmacy student said: “The PDA team were able to discuss our concerns with the University regarding how online exams would be conducted and they were able to answer questions and resolve any insecurities we had. As first year students and in a new environment, we struggled with online learning and the thought of the exam format built up anxiety within our cohort, but we had the PDA ready to help us through it.”

A student member from Wolverhampton University said: “Thank you for all your help and support. We deeply appreciate all that you’ve done for us. If anything, this experience has caused myself and the rest of the students to have a deeper understanding, as well as trust and faith in the PDA. Many students have voiced their interest in becoming PDA student reps as a result of your persistence and support.”

A PDA student rep from Kingston University said: “I’ve seen first-hand the help and advice the PDA have given to student members at my university. I am pleased to be able to help communicate with my fellow students and supporting them through difficult experiences. I would advise every MPharm student to join the PDA, membership is free and you get indemnity for placements too; but you never know when you may need their support. PDA events have been helpful also especially the one on the changes to initial education and training.”

The PDA will continue to provide important support and opportunities for students and future pharmacists.

The PDA is available to answer questions, give advice and support student members that have issues regarding academic misconduct, summer placements or queries regarding exams. Members should contact a PDA Student Representative at their pharmacy school in the first instance.

Contact the PDA for advice and guidance by emailing: enquiries@the-pda.org

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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)

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