Pharmacy and the world of pharmaceuticals is an ever-evolving industry, so it is important for those working the field to keep up to date. Pharmaceutical Industrial Advanced Training (PIAT) is a postgraduate course designed for current professionals to do just that and can be studied either as an MSc or in individual CPD units.
No matter your preference, the course is studied part-time to allow for students to develop their knowledge and career progression alongside work. We recently attended the annual PIAT Summer School to interview some of our current students and see what they had to say about their time on the programme…
Shane McEvoy is 4th Year PIAT student working in sterile pharmaceuticals at Teva.
I’ve enjoyed learning about the broader topics that span across the whole industry: utilities, research and development, as well as clinical trials – the course covers the whole mantra.
I particularly enjoyed the Introduction to Microbiology module, as I work in a sterile pharmaceutical site for Teva, so to get the opportunity to gain a better grounding in microbiology has been great.
The course is very flexible. Not only is it well-structured but the pace of it means you get plenty of time to complete the modules alongside full-time work and family commitments, so I feel that it’s perfectly well balanced.
There is always academic support from the University should you need it: the tutors have more than adequately answered my questions and you can reach out to them directly as they give out their contact details from the off.
The course provides you with a greater understanding of everything that goes into bringing a product to market at various different stages and in terms of the programme overall, I think it speaks for itself given the fact that it was my employer that encouraged me to embark on the course in order to better myself.
Fran Heaton is a Formulation Scientist at RB (Reckitt Benckiser) and in her 3rd year on the course.
At first, given the nature of distance courses, I was worried that having just one type of learning and absorbing everything through one format would be difficult. However, what I found was that not only does it drive you to be more of a self-starter, it also ensures that you read much more closely and make the most of the resources available.
I’ve found that my work can actually inform my study as well: for instance, when I went to visit our factory in Nottingham, I made sure that I looked around the tabletting area to bring some of the theory I was working on to life a bit more.
Another benefit of the course is that because it attracts and caters to current professionals, lots of employers draw attention to the course which means you often come across colleagues who are also on the course that you can discuss the content with.
The course is really flexible and not only can you pick the modules that are most relevant to you and your job, but you can also use it as an opportunity to experiment and look at areas you might want to explore in the future.
Graham is also in his 4th year on the course and works with Shane at Teva in Runcorn
I have found this current year particularly pertinent because I am entering into the period leading up to my dissertation and there has been lots of focus on refining your research skills, getting backing into the academic style of writing, as well as being able to do something outside of just completing reports in your day job.
I have enjoyed the distance-learning format because although it still requires some discipline to manage your own time, you get a sense of satisfaction being able to juggle that alongside your other responsibilities; the minimum requirement is just 2 modules a year and I feel that is perfectly acceptable even working full-time.
I have gained a greater understanding around the microbiological side of things: I am usually working in the validation side of pharmaceuticals which is more engineering-focused, so being able to gain this wider knowledge has been invaluable. You also get the luxury of being able to choose the modules you take, so rather than just having to go through a list, you get to tailor your study and select units that you think will benefit your position within the industry, as well as have as much variety as you want.
I have gotten in touch with the tutors many a time, often over the phone and most of them aren’t academics, they are working in the industry full-time just like the students, so I’m very grateful that they are able to make themselves so available to you. I fully intend to recommend the programme to colleagues as I truly feel it has benefitted me and my career progression.