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Plight of intern pharmacists: Two case studies

After 5 years of undergraduate training, fresh pharmacy graduates from schools of pharmacy in Nigeria are required to undergo a one year mandatory internship training…

After 5 years of undergraduate training, fresh pharmacy graduates from schools of pharmacy in Nigeria are required to undergo a one year mandatory internship training program by the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN) at an approved training center under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. It is after this 12 months internship training that the fresh pharmacy graduates are properly registered as Pharmacists by the council and then proceed for their youth service.
Within the last decade, doubled number of school of pharmacies in the county, has led to an upsurge in the amount of fresh pharmacists being doled out each semester. However, internship centers and internship slots have remained stagnant. It is common for fresh pharmacists to tour round the country in search of a center to undergo the one year mandatory internship training. Those lucky enough to get an internship slot however, meet another obstacle: exploitive work without pay!
This is the case currently in the Pharmacy Units of National Orthopaedic Hospital Dala, Kano and that of the National Assembly Clinic in Abuja. Intern Pharmacists at the National Orthopaedic Hospital are being owed remuneration of 3 months and counting and their incessant complains have felt on deaf ears of a nonchalant management.
The plight of Intern Pharmacists at the National Assembly Clinic is a different sorry tale with 7 months of salary being owed. Barrage of pressure and complaints of unsustainability of feeding, transport and accommodation while working without pay by the interns has yielded no fruition.  It is worth noting that these interns form the bulk of the working force of their departments. They work day and night, covering both normal shifts, and call duties.
Intern Pharmacists by their term of duty cannot be part of any heath union, and this severely derails them to fight for their hard earned rights. Intern’s protests at constant exploitation and lack of remuneration in these institutions are waved away by management and responded to with flimsy pre-written scripts, of their salaries not being captured in the budget and most recently the brandishing of the TSA script.
The Pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) together with the Federal Ministry of Health should peer into this ugly occurrence of lack of remuneration of Intern Pharmacists at the National Orthopedic Hospital Dala, Kano and the National Assembly Clinic, Abuja and indeed other institutions where such unscrupulous circumstances do arise and take bold steps to fix these challenges bothering Pharmacy Interns.
The future of pharmacy is with these young interns, as such the platform must be made rewarding for their immense hard work. It is unfortunate that Intern Pharmacists are learning early that they have to fight systematic injustice before they can benefit from the labours of their hard earned sweat. This paints a grim tale for the future of Pharmacy profession in the country.
Muhammadu Nassarawa [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>

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