The Pharmaceutical Industry Advanced Training (PIAT) Summer School is designed for distance-learning students to get together, make valuable contacts in the industry and meet their fellow peers when they otherwise might not have had the opportunity.
This year’s event was held at Manchester’s Macdonald Hotel and during the course of the day, which featured informative sessions by guest lecturers and a networking lunch, we managed to sit down with Fran Heaton – a current student on the PIAT course…
What are you enjoying about the course so far?
The course has given me a perspective outside of just working within my current company, which can often mean you have a very singular viewpoint. This has made me broaden my horizons and made me more aware of the wider pharmaceutical industry. Also, as I am a formulation scientist, it has been quite nice to get back into the pleasure of studying and embarking on that next level of learning that you don’t often get the chance to do when you are working on a love project.
You mentioned your current role, could you tell us a bit more about it?
I’m a Formulation Scientist at RB (Reckitt Benckiser). We cover several brands but I mainly work on Optrex, so what I decided to do was choose the Liquids and Semisolids unit, as well as the Sterile Pharmaceutical Manufacturing module to get the information that was most relevant to my current role from the course.
Are there any aspects of the course in particular that you have really enjoyed?
As I did a degree in Biology and I work in the pharmaceutical industry, I think the Basic Principles module was really good at providing me with more of a grounding in chemistry. I think I underestimated just how important that base would be and how challenging the course would be without it.
I’m also currently studying the Oral Solids modules (1 & 2) and as I have been mainly working with liquids over the past few years, this has given me the opportunity to better familiarise myself with tablets. I now feel as though I can hold my own in those kinds of conversations, as well as possibly apply for jobs in those areas in the future.
You mentioned ‘Basic Principles’, could you go into more detail on that?
The module focused quite heavily on the chemistry side of things – everything from ionisation states to pKa (how acidic something is, for the layman) and stability, which was really helpful and just gave us more of an understanding of the science in which things you do every day are grounded, rather than just following ICH (International Council for Harmonisation of Technical Requirements for Pharmaceuticals for Human Use) guidelines.
And with the course being distance-learning, do you feel the staff have enough input?
First and foremost, with this kind of course a lot really depends on the quality of the lecture notes and I have to say that the standard; in fact, one of the tutors, Chris Morton, has written some of the best I’ve ever used and by the time I had finished that particular module, I felt I had a proper working knowledge of the subject with continuity from start to finish.
My company has been really supportive. They give me a half a day at a week that I can solely dedicate to studying and the flexibility of the course means that if work is getting busy, you can put the course to one side for a minute and then pick it back up later.