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Home  »   Latest NewsPDA Students   »   Tragic death of student highlights the need to promote sources of help and guidance

Tragic death of student highlights the need to promote sources of help and guidance

The PDA wishes to reiterate sincere condolences to the family and friends of pharmacy student Mared Foulkes who took her own life in 2021 after receiving exam results that suggested she had failed, when in fact she had passed on a resit.

Tue 14th December 2021 The PDA

The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mared Foulkes highlight the significance of the duty of care that organisations must have towards those that they are responsible for. This includes supporting an individual’s wellbeing, as well as demonstrating compliance and good practice.

The PDA welcomes the news that the university is reviewing how it communicates exam results. Safeguards must be in place for all students to ensure that assessment and exam results are communicated to students in an accurate and sympathetic manner. Support must be readily available for those that need it. Results must also be communicated with effective and appropriate signposting to organisations that can offer independent advice.

The PDA has always understood that most students are typically early in their adult and professional lives and therefore among the most vulnerable groups in the pharmacist community. The PDA undertakes many activities to support pharmacy students, alongside the support provided for trainee and practicing pharmacists, by signposting to other sources of support where different expertise is more appropriate.

Many issues faced by students can sometimes appear to be career-ending before their working life has really begun, and the PDA regularly supports students with concerns such as exam appeals, reasonable adjustments and academic misconduct accusations. After listening to recent student member feedback, the PDA met with the GPhC to explore how together all stakeholders, including pharmacy schools, can better support students throughout their learning and training.

The PDA welcomes pharmacy schools working with them and other stakeholders to improve policies and procedures. This will help to better manage student issues and to support students at each stage of their progression, which for some is not a linear journey. Such involvement also allows universities to know they are undertaking reasonable processes in which individuals are appropriately supported and from which fair outcomes can be achieved.

The PDA is focused on improving support for student mental health and wellbeing, implementing reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities, post-examination procedures and fitness to study and practise procedures. Ensuring that processes are fit for purpose in the current context of blended teaching and learning, changes to IET and the move to online examinations have raised new issues for students and trainees. However, more can always be done to ensure individuals know where to go for help and that they do seek the available support.

It was the untimely death of Alison Stamps, a working pharmacist who also took her own life in 2015, that was a significant factor in the PDA’s decision to donate £1 each year for each PDA member to the profession’s charity Pharmacist Support. The PDA’s sponsorship of the charity’s ACTnow campaign included the production of a video also raising the profile of student wellbeing. This video can still be shared and can be viewed here. The PDA encourage any pharmacy student who feels they need it to seek the help of Pharmacist Support or other sources, such as the Samaritans in the case of suicidal thoughts.

Despite significant efforts to raise the profile of the range of support that is available, including Pharmacist Support, the Samaritans, the PDA and others, there will always be some students who might not realise that they too can access those services, or they may hesitate before asking for help. The PDA encourage all existing members to help ensure any pharmacy students who they know are made aware of the support services available and that they are encouraged to seek that support when it is needed.

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