Pharmacy education and training are fundamental to supplying the pharmacy workforce with adequate numbers and the correct competencies to provide relevant pharmaceutical care.

Pharmacy education and training are fundamental to supplying the pharmacy workforce with adequate numbers and the correct competencies to provide relevant pharmaceutical care. Many different countries are at various levels of development with undergraduate and postgraduate pharmacy education due to their economies, infrastructure, or academic capacity.

Pharmacy education development is multifaceted research and practice to ultimately optimize and improve patients’ and the public’s health.

This can include establishing a pharmacy education program itself; developing and assisting institutions to function as sustainable and evidence-based student-centered learning communities; and enhancing curriculum design, teaching, and learning to develop high-quality student learning experiences.

The wide variety of initial, preservice, and postgraduate pharmacy education development all over the world stimulates learning between countries, regions, and individual universities according to their needs.

The authors state that “pharmacy education in particular has witnessed a remarkable shift during this unprecedented time, creating meaningful and relevant opportunities for students to prepare themselves for the imminent digitalization of healthcare. Introducing students to simulation activities via telehealth to increase health literacy is clearly a silver lining in this extraordinary circumstance.

The utilization of serious games and simulations in pharmacy education has increased. Pharmacy games are one such concept that intersects gamification and simulation, in which pharmacy student teams competitively manage simulated pharmacies, a concept included in the pharmacy curricula of seven international universities.

Specifically in the context of developing a proper pharmacy profession; The foundation in the subcontinent was laid in the 1870s at the Madras Medical College, where the first initiative was taken to train students to gain skills in pharmacy practise.

In 1881, a formal training programme for compounders and dispensers was started in Bengal (present-day Bangladesh), and the first pharmacy professional bachelor’s programme was started in 1937 at Banaras Hindu University.

In a discussion to explore the history of the pharmacy profession in Pakistan, in 1948 University of Punjab was the first institution to develop a pharmacy department in Pakistan immediately after independence. The first pharmacy degree program started in Pakistan was a three-year bachelor’s programme, which was extended to four years in 1978–1993.

The initial focus of this programme was to fulfil the needs of the couple of pharmaceutical units established at that time. By the year 2000, not more than ten public universities were offering a Bachelor of Pharmacy.
(B.Pharm.) programme, and the annual number of graduates was not sufficient to fulfil the needs of the pharmaceutical industry. But later, due to the establishment of private universities, or, in other words, the commercialization of education, the annual number of pharmacists doubled by the year 2003.

Moreover, during this time, massive funds were granted to the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan in order to establish faculties and revise the curriculum according to international standards. In order to fulfil international standards, the four-year B.Pharm. programme was upgraded to a five-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm-D) programme.

The main focus of this programme was to incorporate the role of pharmacists in patient care, which is hardly seen in any public or private hospital (excluding very few like Shoukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Agha Khan University Hospital).

In other words, it would not be wrong to say that this upgrade to the Pharm-D programme was just to fulfil global needs; the level of implementation and job prospects for future pharmacists were not taken into consideration.

Challenge to Pharmacy Education in Pakistan

Sifting through the history of pharmacy education in Pakistan, it was seen that the main focus of the pharmacy education sector was to produce graduates to fulfil the needs of the pharmaceutical industry only.

At that time, merely one or hardly two pharmacists were found in a few private hospitals in Pakistan; particularly speaking in terms of government hospitals, the picture was even more miserable. First,  there was no post for the pharmacist in the hospital, and if there was any, it was occupied by a medical doctor as medical store in-charge.

However, in 2002, a shift towards the Pharm-D programme was noticed, and it was made necessary to upgrade the Bachelor of Pharmacy (B.Pharm) to Pharm-D. This shift was more than a ray of hope for the pharmacist to play their role and provide patient-oriented care, just like Canadian and American clinical pharmacists.

But even after eight years, in 2010, clinical pharmacists are still struggling for their rights to practice in the hospital as an essential part of the patient care team. While discussing the progress of Pharm-D, it would be an injustice not to discuss the B.Pharm graduates.

The existence of dual professional degrees poses certain challenges in the job sector for pharmacists. With the upgrade of the B.Pharm programme to Pharm-D, the advertising trends by the pharmaceutical
industries in Pakistan have changed.

The minimum qualification requirement for the post of production officer, quality control officer, and marketing officer/medical sales representative in most pharmaceutical industries has been changed from B.Pharm to Pharm-D.

It is possible that in the near future, those applying to the pharmaceutical industry for these jobs with a B.Pharm degree will get a no because the human resource departments will give preference to Pharm-Ds.

In other words, one can say that the upgradation of the B.Pharm to the Pharm-D has also changed the view of the pharmaceutical sector about pharmacy education in Pakistan.

It is possible that the majority of the national pharmaceutical firms will follow the same trend, which will raise challenges for B.Pharms to work in the industry. In other words, one can assume that Pharm-D professionals will be incorporated to play their role in pharmaceutical product manufacturing, marketing, or distribution instead of patient-oriented care.

In spite of the fact that this issue is still one of the neglected issues in pharmacy education, This issue is not a problem in the Pakistani context; neighbouring nations like India and Bangladesh are also facing the same situation.

It is strongly needed to take some immediate initiative to ensure the job security of the B.Pharm. graduates, who were especially prepared for the pharmaceutical sector and have relevant experience as well.

To compensate for this problem, A condensed or crash Pharm-D course is offered to the B.Pharm. graduates, and they will be warded with the certificate that will prove their educational equivalence to Pharm-D.

But again, this certificate will be merely a tag for them because the condensed course focuses on the clinical aspects that are oriented towards direct patient care and not the pharmaceutical industry. At the moment, most nations are in the race to upgrade their B.Pharms to Pharm-Ds because they aim to produce experts in drugs, which will help them create an effective environment for patient care.

But the historical or traditional role of pharmacists in the pharmaceutical industry is totally neglected. The Pharmacy Council of Pakistan and the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan can grab this opportunity to plan some initiatives to create awareness in the pharmaceutical sector about the scope and job description of Pharm-D pharmacists.

In addition, a Pathway Programme can be adopted that focuses solely on pharmaceutical technology instead of clinical aspects of pharmacy practise. The first three years will focus on the basic medical sciences as they are in the current Pharm-D curriculum, and after three years, students are given the option to choose their favourite, i.e., clinical pharmacy or pharmaceutical technology.

In other words, a five-year professional programme, i.e., a Doctor of Pharmaceutical Technology, will be an ideal approach to fulfilling the needs of the pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan.

Though no one has taken this initiative at the global level, this thought, through this perspective, will act as a base for the educational think tanks in the higher education curriculum development committee of Pakistan to develop such programmes in order to provide specialised professionals for both the development of clinical pharmacy and the propagation of the traditional role of pharmacist in the Pakistani pharmaceutical sector.

King Edward Medical University

King Edward Medical University is quite famous among the masses. King Edward Medical University has a high standard of educational infrastructure. Dozens of students enrol here every year. The Higher Education Commission has given King Edward Medical University the sixth rank among the best institutes of medical education. Certainly, one of the best universities for D Pharmacy in Pakistan.

University of Health Sciences

University of Health Sciences, which is also known as UHS. The University of Health Sciences was established in 2002. The institute aims to raise brilliance in medical as well as health sciences to an international standard. UHS is one of the best universities for D.Pharm. in Pakistan.

The institute focuses on delivering excellent, high-quality education through its internationally qualified professionals. It ranks as the second-best medical college in Pakistan by HEC.

University of the Punjab

The University of Punjab, also known as PU. PU offers a course in D pharmacy, which is a 5-year-long course. The University of Punjab is one of the largest and oldest universities in Pakistan. It was established in 1882 in Lahore.

The university has over 5 campuses, 13 faculties, over 83 departments, and research centres. The university offers top-notch education and has a great teaching faculty. It is certainly a great choice for you to pursue D pharmacy, as it is one of the best universities for D Pharmacy in Pakistan.

The University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences

The University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences is one of the oldest institutions of veterinary science, having been established in 1882. It is a public research university that offers numerous other courses as well. It is known for its great teaching faculty. The university also offers postgraduate, undergraduate, and doctoral programmes.

Shifa College of Medicine

Shifa College of Medicine is one of Islamabad’s best private medical colleges. It is a constituent college of ‘Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University. The institute was established in 1998. The university offers many courses, including MBBS, PharmD, DPT, BSN, DPT, and much more. Shifa College of Medicine is one of the best universities for D Pharmacy in Pakistan.

Riphah International University

Riphah International University is a private university situated in Islamabad. The university also offers many courses to its students, which include dental, sciences, medical, IT, and so much more. Riphah University provides numerous scholarships and financial aid to many students.

The institute also has branches in all major cities in Pakistan, including Lahore and Faisalabad. It is a great choice for students to pursue D pharmacy; it is one of the best universities for D Pharmacy in Pakistan. Related: The Best Medical Fields for Females in Pakistan


The University of Central Punjab, also famously known as UCP, is situated in Lahore. It is part of the project of the Punjab Group of Colleges. UCP offers the course D Pharmacy; the duration of the course is 5 years and includes a total of 10 semesters. The institute was established in 2002 and is quite famous among the masses.

Dow University of Health Sciences

DOW ranks as the 3rd best medical university and is one of Pakistan’s oldest and most highly ranked public research institutes. Dow offers undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programmes. Dow has also recently announced admissions to the Clinical Research Certified Professional course.

Ziauddin University

Ziauddin University is a private university that has numerous departments such as medicine, dentistry, biomedical engineering, nursing, pharmacy, etc. Ziauddin is the 5th-ranked medical university in Pakistan and is recognised by the HEC.

Hamdard University

Hamdard University is a private university that was established in 1991. Hamdard University has campuses in Islamabad and Karachi. The institute is also known as HU. Hamdard University is known for its great faculty and offers its students a vast range of courses. HU is certainly a great choice, as it is one of the best universities for D Pharmacy education in Pakistan.

University of Karachi

The University of Karachi is a public research university that was established in 1951. The University of Karachi is one of the biggest universities in the country, with over 50 departments and 20 research centres. Their department of pharmacy is quite huge; more than 2000 students are enrolled in their pharm-D department.

Quaid-e-Azam University

Quaid-e-Azam University is also known as QAU. QAU is one of Islamabad’s largest and oldest institutes and is very popular among students. Thousands of students enrol at QAU every year. Quaid-e-Azam University offers a vast range of courses. QAU is known for its highly qualified teaching faculty and top-notch education.

Isra University

Isra University is a non-profit organisation that is owned by the Isra Islamic Foundation. It is situated in Hyderabad and has many campuses in the major cities of Pakistan, which include Islamabad as well as Karachi.

The university offers many programmes in allied medicine, engineering, science, medicine, and dentistry. The institute is ranked among the top four medical universities in Pakistan.

“There is no scope for any profession in this world; scope relates to the person who practises that profession”. The same applies to the pharmacy profession. Having a clear sense of contemporary issues, empiric realities, and changing trends is also the responsibility of professionals practising the profession.
As a student in the pharmacy profession, I will present some statistics.

Thereafter, I will share some traditional opportunities a Pakistani pharmacist has in hand and the merits and demerits related to them. Finally, I will share some good news for junior pharmacists who have just entered or are studying at Pharmacy Institutes.

Before the year 2000, there were only about 10 Institutes across Pakistan involved in training pharmacists, and the number of pharmacists was very small, not only in Pakistan but globally. They were in demand, and as soon as they graduated, they settled themselves quite easily by migrating to developed countries like the USA, Canada, the UK, and the Middle East.

Those who preferred to stay in Pakistan were also consumed in industry, or they launched their own pharmacies, distribution setups, or industries. The number of Pharmacists produced annually was either less than or matched the traditional opportunities available at that time.

Things were somehow under control for pharmacists, and the pharmacy profession was a lucrative alternative choice for the FSc pre-medical group of students after MBBS.

Although it disrupted the entire global economy and professions, the advent of the 21st century did not spare the pharmacy profession in Pakistan either.

I leave the discussion about the global economy and how it has affected all professions for some known experts; suffice it to say here that I will mention the book linchpin for those interested more in this topic.

Let’s come back to Pakistani Pharmacists. Private pharmacy institutes were rare before the year 2000 in Pakistan. In 2003, a 4-year B.Pharmacy degree was upgraded to a Pharm.D. degree, and the syllabus was approved by HEC.

This was the turning point in the history of the pharmacy profession in Pakistan. The prefix Dr. made pharmacy degrees a hot cake; demand for the degree started soaring, and seeing the opportunity, the private sector jumped in the market, and soon there was a mushrooming of pharmacy institutes specifically in Lahore and all across Pakistan in general. These days, there are more than 53 institutes across Pakistan that produce more than 5000 pharmacists annually.

Export of pharmacists to the developed world continued around 2005, and those who could avail themselves of this opportunity are now well settled professionally in the developed world. As the number of pharmacists started increasing due to the plethora of pharmacy institutes, the opportunities started vanishing globally and on a local level as well.

Inflation in education was the second result; a Pharm.D. was not a sufficient education for getting a respectable job. This is the time when the Higher Education Commission was giving scholarships generously for higher studies abroad as well as doing M.Phil. and PhD. locally.

The fresh pharmacists immediately after B.Pharm. or Pharm.D. enrolled themselves in M.Phil. and subsequently in PhD. and grabbed the opportunities in government and private teaching institutes. That was a great choice a couple of years ago. Now, all the teaching institutes are already full or are about to be full with HEC-imported PhDs.

On an approximation, it can be said that those pharmacists who graduated before 2010 are somehow settled somewhere. But pharmacists after 2010 are still struggling to find their niches, and that is partly because of changing trends in the pharmacy profession.

It may seem like a very dark picture of the pharmacy profession, but hold on, remain with me, and read the essay till the end. With every changing trend or difficulty rises an opportunity that was never there before.

I will explore some of the traditional opportunities and some new ones that have developed with these changing trends. I am still proud to say that the pharmacy profession is the best profession, and its demand and scope can never vanish. It may change form, but it will remain there.

Traditional opportunities available to fresh Pharm.D. graduates in Pakistan are:

Government Jobs;

1. Hospital Pharmacist in Government Teaching Hospitals
2. Drug Inspector
3. Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan
4. Forensic Scientist
5. Drug Testing Laboratories
6. World Health Organisation

Government jobs are too competitive, and it is said that they are often not very meritorious, but chances are some may get them, and still, they will be in the hundreds. It is difficult for the government to accommodate all pharmacists produced in thousands, as physicians and nurses are already struggling for their salary raises, and we see strikes every other day.

One option is still there: wait for the good days when the entire governance and health care system in Pakistan becomes as smooth as it “SHOULD”, which frankly I don’t see in the near future. These are not only the pharmacists being affected; it applies to every profession.

Private Jobs:

1. Pharmaceutical Industry
2. Retail or Community Pharmacy
3. Distribution setup
4. Sales and Marketing
5. Hospital Pharmacist at a private hospital
6. Instructor at the institute training Category B candidates
7. NGOs
8. Nutraceutical Industry
9. Cosmetic Industry
10. Training Centres

Private jobs are good for those who understand how capitalism works. Why are even these private sector enterprises existing, and what are the mission and vision of private enterprises?

One bad news is that if you start looking at these opportunities after your graduation, chances are you will have to spend some more precious and equally vital years and energies finding the best for yourself, and it is also possible you will suffer from some bouts of depression (due to social and marital responsibilities, applicable to both genders), but if you are resilient and are determined to make your way, you can make a good livelihood provided you find a good mentor in these jobs. It is also possible you can open your own private business after consuming your time and energies.

The good news is for those who are studying at pharmacy institutes right now. They should take the responsibility of choosing their field during their study years, develop networks with the gurus and owners of these private businesses, and start learning the real secrets of their trades.

Don’t assume someone will tell you in your ears that this is the job for you; it is your responsibility to start the search now. The world is no longer the way it was. You are now responsible for your life. We quote western systems as an example and forget to know that teens there start earning at the age of 17.

The east is far richer than the west if we follow some of their good habits, which are in fact universal principles. If you start searching at the age of 17, there are way higher chances that you will be right on track before your marriage at the age of 24, 25. The pharmacy profession badly needs such responsible pharmacists.

Higher Education:

If you have time and can afford it, higher education can be another opportunity for you.

M.Phil. and PhD

Opportunities for fresh M.Phil. and PhD. students are in teaching and research, but again, the bad news is that vacancies in the teaching sector are being filled at unimaginable speeds. Working with private research organisations and industries is the only option left.

Opportunities for Fresh Pharmacists Abroad:

There are still opportunities for pharmacists abroad, but only if an undergraduate pharmacist starts working in his or her college years.

As it is now a lengthy process and requires equally great efforts to become a registered pharmacist in developed countries like the USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, and the Middle East. Knowing visa procedures, calculating costs, and knowing the challenges of jobs in healthcare are prerequisites, and it is very possible to gather all this information in the student years.

In addition, one must take into account the price to be paid for leaving the motherland, where all the loved ones are living.

Another opportunity abroad is higher education, which is certainly very possible and attractive, and if someone plans to pursue higher education abroad, the good news is that there is no need to enrol in master’s programmes as a 5-year Pharm.D. degree allows Pakistani pharmacists to get admission directly into a PhD programme provided they know research, have developed a taste for it, and clearly know what skills are required to do a PhD.

Again, it is very much possible now to have all this information if someone knows how to use Google and Google Scholar. Professors at any university in Pakistan can guide students in this regard. It is now the responsibility of a pharmacy student to seek guidance from their professors and network with professors all around the globe through LinkedIn.

Well, I have discussed so far the traditional opportunities; all these options are good depending on the taste and liking of the pharmacist, and all these options provide a means to have a reasonable livelihood. But if a pharmacist really wishes to become financially prosperous, the good news is that the pharmacy profession has the potential to satisfy this desire.

The way to do this is to understand that the pharmacy profession around the globe is the world’s top business. Pakistan requires so many more industries and community pharmacies that the seemingly excessive number of pharmacists immediately starts looking scarce. But, again, to jump into these ventures, one requires a “through street knowledge” of the state of affairs of business and entrepreneurship.

In addition, there is a big space for teaching and training the common public about routine health issues, and emerging information and mobile technology give a big opportunity to start online ventures for serving and earning.

There is a single rule of entrepreneurship, solve a problem and get your return, and it is a great opportunity that there are a lot of problems in Pakistan that need to be fixed, and technology has the potential to help solve those problems. I feel learning technology as a medical professional is now mandatory to unleash the potential it has for transforming healthcare paradigms.

Well, mostly, it seems, the opportunities are for students who are in their student lives. For pharmacists who have already graduated and are struggling with finding jobs and are thinking about higher education in hopes of getting a job at a university, there is bad news: things may not be easy for you now, but if you are persistent and are willing to compensate for the “overlooking” of your undergraduate years, spend a day or two with yourself to see your work alienation and then start working to learn your field. It may take  some more years of your life to achieve some goals, but you will. People say, “Oh, I don’t have stamina now to learn”.

In the 21st century, continuous learning is the minimum requirement to excel in your field. By the way, these years will somehow pass even if you don’t do anything except complain about the profession and system, but still, you will have to learn whatever field you wish to work in.

Those who say the pharmacy profession has no scope say it is not the profession, it is their self,” which has no scope, as I believe scope relates to a person, not a profession.

This article is jointly authored by Dr. Barkat Ali Khan, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Gomal University, and Miss Iqra Shamsher, A PharmD student.