Pharmacy colleges worldwide face unprecedented challenges in ensuring sustainable education during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The global COVID-19 pandemic has not only posed a challenge to education but created an opportunity to spearhead a digital transformation. A prominent college in Chhattisgarh, Shri Rawatpura Sarkar Institute of Pharmacy, has taken novel initiatives in delivering emergency remote teaching. The institute has been ensuring purposeful experiential placements, supporting displaced or isolated students, and communicating with faculty members, staff members, and students. “We had recently undergone a curriculum transformation that included increased active learning, a focus on skill development, more experiential placements, and a required research project. After prioritizing consistency, we adapted a sustainability mindset, promoting a ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, and renew’ approach. We reduced content, learning objectives, and synchronous learning requirements. When campus-based activities return, we plan to implement an intensive period when students will master skills they were unable to demonstrate fully online,” opines Dr. J.K. Upadhyaya, Vice Chairman, Shri Rawatpura Sarkar Institute of Pharmacy (SRSIP).
Significantly impacting pharmacy education as lab-based and students could not come to colleges, SRIP faced a lot of challenges while imparting proper and thorough knowledge and skill. What added to this was some students not getting internet connectivity as they lived in remote areas. “Pharmacy education sector has switched to the digital media. We are trying to create a place for learning, discovery, innovation, expression, and discourse. Student’s academic as well as personality growth are our key concern areas. We are emphasizing on learning as well as skill development of our students,” says Dr. Upadhyaya.
SRSIP has been interested in digital transformation since completing its interview with global leaders. The institute began its journey using the current COVID-19 pandemic as an accelerant for change. Digital transformation in any industry is not a simple undertaking. However, with planning, aligned organizational interests, consistent and regular communication, provision of resources and tools, engaging faculty, and creating accountability and timelines with deliverables the implementation can be successful. Online lectures had been supplemented with live interactive opportunities, seminars, question-and-answer sessions, and revision sessions. Although SRSIP set aside some of our academic traditions to deal with the acute phase of the pandemic, their strength as long-term planners will be critical as they enter the chronic phase. “The teachers prepared videos, gave live teaching as well as lab demonstrations by which digital skills of teachers, as well as students, were developed. By organizing lecture series of Professionals of National and International level student’s knowledge exposure was enhanced,” adds Dr. Upadhyaya.
Grooming Industry-Competent Pharmacists
Established in 2004 as the first private Pharmacy College of Chhattisgarh, SRSIP has emerged as one of the premier institutes in the field of pharmacy. The institute has B. Pharm, D.Pharm, M.Pharm in five branches Pharmaceutics, Pharmacognosy, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance, and Pharmacology. Institute is approved by the Pharmacy Council of India and affiliated with Chhattisgarh Swami Vivekananda University, Newai. Envisioning to be a center of excellence in the field of education by adopting innovative approaches and to build the structure of dynamic intelligence, Dr. Upadhyaya, adds, “We want to inculcate humanism, tolerance, reason, progress, fearlessness, and truthfulness through our education and produce integrated men and women free from fear.”
Imparting quality and effectiveness in all activities, networking, helping in the holistic development of technocrats based on long-cherished values and principles, SRSIP trains its student pharmacists in accordance with the skills the healthcare sector is in desperate need of. Final-year projects had been equally affected, with students working digitally, rather than in the lab or on placement. The institute is using a timetabled booking-in approach to maximize lab space and time while observing social distancing. “We are regularly seeking feedback from students, so we can adapt the digital elements of our courses, where needed, to fully meet students’ needs. Recent student surveys show that our students found the transition to online learning earlier this year to be positive, with a good provision in place and lots of support available. We will continue to listen, adapting what we offer, and focus on delivering high-quality learning to all of our students,” adds Dr. Upadhyaya.
With a qualified staff who are helping students achieve academic excellence, SRSIP is a well-equipped laboratory with ambient infrastructure. Their IT Infrastructure manages all on-premise enterprise data center and communications facilities, including all enterprise data networking, voice communications, and related supporting technologies, have computer System Laboratories, E-library, Hobby Clubs, and CPCSEA approved Animal house. SRSIP has always given importance to their students to work for their dream. No matter which field of academics a student is pursuing, there will always be an area in that field that excites and drives them. Education is a never-ending subject, and the more the students immerse themselves into it, the more they discover. An important key to motivation is to keep learning new skills. While specialization is always valued, the job market today requires multi-skilled individuals. “It is important for students of all disciplines to learn the essential skills particularly digital skills that are much in demand today. And to bring the hidden talent out, we have several clubs in which students participate according to their interest and serve towards the society,” explains Dr. Upadhyaya.
Overall Upskilling of Students
Encouraging their students towards innovative thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and exponential communication skills, SRSIP aims to make innovation and communication two of their four critical skill sets necessary for the overall development of their students. The institute uses a variety of non-traditional teaching methods and leads students to develop original ideas. “We have our patent cell and innovations in research leading to patenting of methodology/product is encouraged at all levels. We have made various extracurricular hobby clubs, we organize National level Conferences, Seminars, Workshops, and Webinars for the global exposure of our students and faculties,” Dr. Upadhyaya points out.
Industry and academia partnerships not only create a synergy but a multiplier impact to develop and scale up solutions at a pace that is needed in the current scenario of the COVID-19 pandemic. Students should expose more practical experience apart from theoretical knowledge. As the world is becoming more and more professionally competent, it is paramount to enhance the professional standards of graduates to keep their wheel moving. This is possible through industry-academia collaboration. Academia-industry interaction should consider as part of the education and industries should come forward and align the course contents with their needs. Academia also should bring changes in the educational system to ensure that industry expectation is met without compromising academic goals. Shri Rawatpura Sarkar Institute of Pharmacy has several MOUs with different industries in which their students are placed regularly. “Our students and faculties have achieved various Awards by National and State agencies. Pooja Gupta was a University topper and was included as a student representative in the Board of Studies of our University CSVTU, Newai. SonuSonkar B.Pharm student qualified GPAT and achieved All India Rank 133 in GPAT 2021,” states Dr. Upadhyaya.
Creating a center of excellence for R&D in the field of pharmaceutical sciences with an inter-disciplinary approach with a focus on industry-academia interaction and cooperation at the National and International level, SRSIP is developing and maintaining the facilities to carry out the institutional research projects for undergraduate as well as postgraduate students. They are developing their Center for Continuous & Lifelong Learning for Professional Excellence (CCLPE) to ensure the successful development, delivery, assessment, and continuous improvement of all the courses under the Pharmacy program. With their concern lies in the development of their Industry Collaborations, the institute is planning to create frequent opportunities of exposure of students by the knowledge of Experts of National and International level through Guest lectures and National and International Seminars and Conferences, aiding them to the top leaders in the pharmaceutical industry.
About Dr. J.K. Upadhyaya, Vice Chairman, Shri Rawatpura Sarkar Institute of Pharmacy
Dr. JK completed his Doctor of Philosophy from Agra University and then worked as a post-doctoral fellow at IIT Delhi. He excelled in academics right from his childhood. His school education was confined to his small village where he studied in Hindi medium school. His pre-university education was at a prestigious Govt. Inter College, Agra, which opened him to the world outside. From there, he moved on to obtain his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Physics from Agra University, Uttar Pradesh. He joined Indian Forest Service in the 1981 batch and retired as Head of, Forest Department. Dr. J.K. Upadhyaya took the responsibility of Shri Rawatpura Sarkar Lok Kalyan of Trust in 2015 at Raipur. He envisioned that this Institution would offer World-Class Education to students who would, in turn, create an indelible impact on society.
Due to his passion for societal development and compassion for the underprivileged, Dr. J.K. has launched several schemes for uplifting the women and unemployed youth in the region to help them become self-reliant. He offers scholarships to students from disadvantaged sections of society to enable them to pursue higher education. He has established the Universal Higher Education Trust to create opportunities for higher education for every deserving student in the region. He has adopted several villages with the motto of improving the quality of lives of the rural people under the scheme of AICTE. His vision of transforming Raipur into a greener and cooler town by planting many saplings has begun to yield fruit. Dr.J.K’s farsightedness extends beyond horizons.