Download PCI circular dated 07-09-2021: The Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) has directed the affiliated institutions, which are conducting B Pharm courses, to start the two-year bridge course, B Pharm (Practice), introduced by the pharmacy council in 2015 to upgrade the knowledge and standard of working pharmacists in the country.
The 112th central council meeting of the PCI decided to encourage all the approved degree institutions to run the bridge course in order to uplift the qualification of the diploma pharmacists along with enhancement of their knowledge in the subject.
However, the PCI allows only those colleges which are running the regular four year Bachelor of Pharmacy (B Pharm) course with the approval of the council to conduct the bridge course.
According to sources close to the central council this decision has come in the wake of the national level demand for abolition of diploma course (D Pharm) and make degree in place to practice the profession of pharmacy which is always continuing to change with updating new developments.
Although the course was introduced by the PCI near about six years ago, only a few government and private universities in the country recognised it and gave approval to the program.
In South India, the Deemed University in Mysore, JSS University, was the first university to approve the course. Later, Vels University in Chennai and Vinayaka Mission University in Salem also recognised it and started the weekly course.
In the eastern part of the country, except two universities in Assam, no other University approved it. The Assam Science and Technology University (ASTU), a purely government University in Guwahati and the state government controlled (autonomous) Dibrugarh University in the eastern part of the state were the two universities in the public sector that approved the course in India.
The department of pharmaceutical sciences at Dibrugarh and Girijananda Institute of Pharmacy in Guwahati, affiliated to ASTU still conduct the course.
Dr Hemant Kumar Sharma, Coordinator of the course at Dibrugarh told that the first bach was started in 2019 and its final year exam was over last month. The results will be out in another 20 days. The tuition fee for one year was only Rs 25,000. He further said, admission for the third batch is going on.
Although the bridge course received acceptance by a few institutions and universities, it never got the recognition of majority of the universities from all the states in India. The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences in Karnataka (RGHUS) and the Kerala University of Health Sciences (KUHS) have so far not recognised the course since it is a weekly evening course.
Further, its duration is only two years which is less than the approved period of a degree course. As per UGC norms, a degree course must be of three years period (10+2+3) after Plus Two.
Justifying the course duration as equal to any other degree course compared with the eligibility, Dr B Suresh, president of the PCI, said as per the UGC regulations, a diploma holder ( (D Pharm) is eligible for the three year lateral entry admission for B Pharm. Here, a candidate joining for B Pharm (Practice) has completed 10+2+2 years study (10 + Plus Two + D Pharm).
For admission to the regular B Pharm, the basic qualification is 10+2. So, after D Pharm, the two year period is enough for the practice degree course. Once the course is completed, the student totally completes 16 years study in total which is one year more. He said the national education policy (NEP) recognises this 10+2+2 basic qualification.
Further, he added that the course was introduced to enhance the knowledge of the pharmacist in advanced patient care. PCI is now in the process of of encouraging all the pharmacists across the country to upgrade their knowledge.
Dr. Mohammad Salahuddin, chairman of Board of Studies for undergraduate in RGUHS in Karnataka and principal of Al Ameen College of Pharmacy in Bengaluru, said this bridge course was designed for the purpose of increasing the knowledge of the pharmacists in the community pharmacies and not for getting promotion in government service. He said admission is given to the course only with five years experience in pharmacy practice. This bridge course is purely a practical course, he said.
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