Teaching in a Continual Professionally Developing World

The importance of keeping up to date with the ever-changing world of science cannot be underestimated in our contemporary society where high standards and accountability are demanded by all. To show that one is keeping abreast of these areas companies and professional bodies require proof of Continual Professional Development (CPD). CPD (Continuing Professional development)

One area with a special need for a highly skilled workforce is the pharmaceutical industry. Professionals in this area need to keep up to date with scientific progress and legal requirements to adequately perform and deliver their research and development (R&D) activities. This is particularly necessary for those joining the registers of toxicologists across Europe. Industry also needs to be able to support the CPD of employees who continuously have to up-skill and /or re-skill in a rapidly moving business.

To ensure the inclusion of the latest scientific insights and legal changes in continual training of professionals some pharmaceutical companies have developed training courses addressing their needs; others simply relocate to where they have access to a skilled workforce. This is unnecessarily expensive for industry. What’s more, it does not address the fact that individuals trained in one company often need to be retrained when they move jobs. This is due to the fact that skills acquired in one setting are frequently not recognized in another.

If this problem can be addressed on a European level it will increase the critical mass of scientists underpinning the industry. Consequently Europe will be more attractive for industry to locate and/or expand their R&D facilities. A solution to this problem can be study programmes offered by universities such as those provided by the Universities of Surrey and Birmingham or through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) platform of courses such as SafeSciMet or PharmaTrain. Both the universities of Surrey and Birmingham have a long-standing research and teaching profile in toxicology with substantial interactions with industry. In particular, they provide expertise in running training programmes to meet the industry’s requirements.

Surrey runs a successful Modular Training Programme in Applied Toxicology as well as a more basic programme on the principles of toxicology for non-toxicologists under the Centre for Toxicology. Birmingham runs an MSc Course in toxicology and an MRes in Molecular Mechanistic Toxicology. Both Universities have staff who contribute to national and international toxicology committees and societies.

Participants on the Modular Training Programme at Surrey can be exempt from a module based on work experience. They are required to provide evidence of previous learning and/or experience and may receive exemption from appropriate modules. Those gaining exemption are asked to give a lecture/tutorial or contribute a case study. This offers an opportunity to exchange ideas and enhances networking. The University of Surrey also offers workshops as “spin offs” from the main Master’s programme. These workshops/short courses are CPD accredited.

In conclusion, the flexibility of modular training programmes provides not only the opportunity of an academic qualification but also allows for “up-skilling” for those in employment. The design of programme also permits workshops to be developed and the opportunity for credit transfer between Universities.