News

Pharmacy lab gets a new-age remedy


2 June 2014

Associate Professor Parisa Aslani (centre) teaches pharmacy students in the recently upgraded dispensing lab
Associate Professor Parisa Aslani (centre) teaches pharmacy students in the recently upgraded dispensing lab

The pharmacy dispensing lab has been transformed into a modern and interactive space that is preparing students for real-world pharmacy practice.

Last refurbished more than 50 years ago, the lab now features a computer for each student, a contemporary audiovisual system with streaming capability and a new configuration that has increased class capacity to 60 from 45. According to Associate Professor Parisa Aslani, this year's upgrade has transformed the atmosphere of the lab, not to mention the behaviour of the students.

"It has changed from that 'vintage classroom' feel to something that's comfortable and modern," says Parisa, who coordinates fourth-year integrated dispensing practice in the lab. "I think the students are working cleaner and quicker and behaving differently because they feel more like professional pharmacists."

The dispensing lab is located in the Pharmacy and Bank Building, next to the Quadrangle on Camperdown Campus. Due to the history of the space and the fondness with which it is remembered by alumni, the refurbishment focused on retaining and restoring the unique heritage features of the space, such as the gabled ceiling and large windows. As well as retaining the heritage feel, the space contains the latest safety equipment and allows for innovative and contemporary teaching methods.

Parisa has been a full-time teacher and researcher in the Faculty of Pharmacy since 1999, and is enjoying seeing the positive difference the refurbishment is already making on teaching and learning in the lab.

"For an academic lead it's great because we've now got two projector screens and a camera at the front, so we can demonstrate techniques more efficiently," says Parisa. "The lab itself is also set out in a more logical way - previously you felt like you were getting in the students' way when you walked around."

One of the highlights of Parisa's job is seeing students learn and progress, and producing quality pharmacists by the end of their studies.

"It's very satisfying when the penny drops for those students, when they go beyond thinking they just have to study for the sake of getting marks to thinking, 'I have to be a competent pharmacist, and I have to think about my patients and be responsible for what I'm doing.'"

Fourth-year student Geoff Wills looks forward to one day owning or getting involved in a community pharmacy that not only supplies medication, but provides education and support for patients in their treatment regimes. He is enjoying practising dispensing in the new facilities in his final year of study.

"Having a dispensing computer for every student is a breath of fresh air," he says. "Not only does the lab look professional, functional and hi-tech, it's also an inspiring environment to learn about pharmacy."

Fourth-year pharmacy student Geoff Wills
Fourth-year pharmacy student Geoff Wills

The dispensing lab before and after the refurbishment
The dispensing lab before and after the refurbishment