How a foundation year set me up to succeed in pharmacy

One thing that makes The University of Manchester so great is the flexibility that it offers its students. There isn’t one rigid way to obtain your degree with some courses offering years abroad, others offering intercalation years and some offering foundation years. Nelam Akhtar is a second year Pharmacy student who made use of the foundation year to gain access to the full four-year degree. Here, she talks about the benefits of the foundation year and how it’s helped her to feel more confident…

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The foundation year for Pharmacy wasn’t a route I initially planned to go down. However, on results day I found out that I didn’t get the grades I needed to study Pharmacy at Manchester, I was devastated, but luckily for me, I was offered the opportunity to study the foundation year.

The amazing city of Manchester is what initially drew me towards wanting to study Pharmacy here. When I came for my interview, the atmosphere wasn’t tense and awkward, which helped me to feel at ease. This further reinforced my decision of wanting to study here.

I really enjoyed the foundation year, it allowed me to make some incredible friends and all in all it was a great experience. During the foundation year, we were taught the biology and chemistry aspects of science that were specific to the Pharmacy degree, we also did extemporaneous labs where we were able to make different formulations of medicines such as capsules and ointments, something I found extremely interesting.

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During the year we had to write four CPDs (continuing professional development), which is a portfolio of your personal goals and achievements you want to work towards. In each entry, you must write what you wish to learn/achieve and how you plan on doing so.

As part of our coursework, we had to write an essay on a specific drug that we were each given. The drug that I was given was Ketoprofen – I had to research and write about the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of this drug, and as a group we also had to design the packaging for the drug.

Since I undertook the foundation year I didn’t feel out of place when I moved onto the first year of the Pharmacy degree. I already had made friends from the previous year which meant I wasn’t overwhelmed or uncomfortable since I wasn’t on my own. I was very well versed in university life which meant I settled in a lot quicker.

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During my extemporaneous labs in the first year, I knew what I was doing due to my experience from the foundation year. This is one advantage I had over those who did not do the foundation year.  Also, the fact that my friends from foundation year were on the course with me made me more relaxed about the daunting first year of university.

My advice to anyone who is considering on applying to a foundation year course would be to just go for it because in my opinion the foundation year for me has been the best year at university so far.  The extra one year allowed me to not only brush up on my knowledge, which has set me up for the remaining of the degree, but it also gave me the opportunity to make some great memories with the people I met.

I am not 100% certain on what aspect of pharmacy I want to go into the future, I currently really enjoy my hospital placements and I am also interested in the industrial sector of pharmacy, so I hope I get to dabble in both in the future.


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