International recognition for pharmacy student at FIP conference 2012

5 November 2012

Ramesh Walpola, a PhD candidate from the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Sydney has been awarded the 2012 FIP Young Pharmacist/Pharmaceutical Scientist Groups Grant for Professional Innovation.

The announcement was made at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)World Centennial Congress of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences held from 3-8 October. FIP celebrated its 100 year anniversary this year and the event was held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands - the home country of FIP since its beginning.

Ramesh now joins the University of Sydney group of past winners of this grant which include: Dr Rebekah Moles (2006), Dr Claire O'Reilly (2009) and Jonathan Penm (2010).

Ramesh's project focuses on the development and evaluation of a peer led patient safety education program.

"I am very honored to receive this grant and have the importance of my project recognised internationally. This grant will help develop new generations of pharmacists who have a greater awareness about factors that affect the safety of their patients. If adopted internationally, this could make a positive global impact." said Ramesh.

In 2002, World Health Organisation (WHO) member states recognised the need to reduce the harm and suffering to patients and their families from healthcare errors and agreed upon a resolution to improve patient safety.

Education in patient safety principles is identified as an important step in minimising harm, however, patient safety education has received relatively little emphasis. Ramesh's project aims to fill this gap through the development of a patient safety peer education program, where senior student leaders can be trained in the principles of patient safety and then deliver educational activities to junior peers, thus supporting the exposure of students to patient safety education globally.

Ramesh said: "This project will develop a peer led education framework and toolkit that utilises the current WHO Patient Safety Curriculum Multi-professional edition and associated accessible learning resources.

"This model of education will support students to develop their leadership skills while engaged in patient safety training, which they will relay to junior students within their school of pharmacy, enhancing existing patient safety learning or providing an introduction to the concepts where formal patient safety education is lacking.

"This program has the potential for national and global expansion via student and young pharmacist networks and may also form a platform for further development of pharmacy interns and practicing pharmacists."

Ramesh completed his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Sydney and registered as a pharmacist in 2009. Since then he has worked as a community pharmacist while undertaking his PhD. Ramesh was a member of the NSW Early Career Pharmacist (ECP) Working Group of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) 2009-11 and Vice Chair from 2010-2011. He also presented at the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) World Congress 2011 in Hat Yai, Thailand and at the World Healthcare Students Symposium (WHSS) 2011 in Prague, Czech Republic.

Contact: Kate Sanday

Phone: 02 9351 2311

Email: 1d203803035624177f5e32271b341b1c360171064a5458163c5e282c4c455503