Discovering Drugs Down Under

For more photos from the trip click here

* The following post was written by Dr Leong Shu Xian Grace, a lecturer from the Diploma in Pharmaceutical Science.

A total of 30 students and 2 lecturers went on a study trip to Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia from 5 October 2014 to 13 October 2014. The trip was jointly organized by Griffith University School of Pharmacy and University of Queensland, PACE (Pharmacy Australia Centre of Excellence) and the itinerary included visiting both educational institutes, visits to hospital and community pharmacies, a research institute and one of Australia’s largest pharmaceutical industries. 

Trip Highlights

  • Griffith University, GU

The postgraduate students in the School of Pharmacy took pains to plan two laboratory introductory hands-on sessions for our students which included basic compounding, aseptic and gowning techniques. The School of Pharmacy also kindly organized Meet-and-Greet social tea, BBQ dinner and lawn bowling sessions for our students to mingle with the current university undergraduates. This proved to be very useful for our students, who had plenty of questions regarding university school life, curriculum and the local area. 

“...it was a good experience and it taught me that every foreign country has its own unique culture, in future years when we are given a chance to do business overseas, we too have to accept and adapt to it.”

Fiorina, PHS Level1: “It was fun doing the lab work and I look forward to doing it in Year 2 and 3.”

Benjarat, PHS Level 1: “I really appreciate the work the hosts have done for us PHS students.”

Alicia, PHS Level 2: “..Somehow, I felt a sudden surge of motivation to study harder…”

Nasrul, PHS Level 2: “We got a chance to have a peek at the student lifestyle in GU and it gave me something to work towards.”

The university also planned pharmacy visits where the students were organized into five different groups to visit five pharmacies, including both hospital and community pharmacies. Students learnt that more autonomy was given to the pharmacists in Australia than in Singapore, and also how the categorization of drugs plays an important role in dispensing. This was especially beneficial to Year 1 students, who were not exposed to any subject on dispensing yet. 

Wen Ting, PHS Level 2: “Visited Logan Hospital today, saw their pharmacy and wards…it’s like seeing what I learnt in IPT (Introduction to Pharmacotherapeutics) module…”

Fairusnisah, PHS Level 2: “They (community pharmacies) were more organized and they really show that they care a lot about their patients by providing pamphlets and consultations.”

  • API (Australian Pharmaceutical Industries)

As one of the largest pharmaceutical distributors in the country, API owns several online pharmacies such as Priceline and Soul Pattinson Chemist. Students were taken on a tour to visit their huge industrial warehouse with carton after carton of medications stacked a few stories high. This trip was an eye-opener for the students and gave them a peek as to how working life will be like if they entered the pharmaceutical industry.

“I felt really honoured to be involved in the visit; the machinery and logistics are spectacular. It was really an eye opener to see how medicine get on shelves and how people make business out of medicine.”

Karthi, PHS Level 3: “Whatever you learnt in school about stock keeping, marketing, labeling came to live when we visited the API warehouse…”

Jacqueline, PHS Level 3: “…from there, I learnt that teamwork and mutual respect are some of the important key factors I need to equip myself with before stepping into the real working world…”

Syafiqah, PHS Level 2: “It did give me a picture of what I have learnt from the PLM (Pharmaceutical Legislation and Marketing) module regarding the wholesaler’s role.”

  • University of Queensland, PACE

The faculty generously organized a tour of the facilities at PACE – the mock pharmacy; counseling rooms; huge comfortable library and research laboratories were some of the main highlights. The students were also invited to a tea session where current Singaporean students studying pharmacy in PACE gave insights on their life in the university and regarding the course. Faculty staff was also present to answer any pressing enquiry our students posted. Such sessions proved to be beneficial to the students – in fact many of them came back to TP rejuvenated, raring to work hard for the next semester!

  • Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery 

The institute was situated in a forested area, very close to nature, on another Griffith University Campus. The institute is dependent on HTS, high throughput screening to discover different leads for new drugs. Much of the equipment housed and methods used were sophisticated and this included X-Ray crystallography and FTIR. We were also honoured to have four post-graduate students giving presentations on their research projects ranging from managing Parkinson’s Disease to creating chemical compounds to encompass radioactive drugs for targeted delivery. This intrigued several students and some even mentioned research could be a possible career path for them.  

“…the researcher said every failure is a step towards success as you are eliminating the results until you get your desired result. Another thing that I found out about what researchers did was they share their information to other researchers all over the world. I was really inspired by it.”

Ashwin, PHS Level 2: “..the visit broadened my horizons on the possible career opportunities..”

Syafiqah, PHS Level 2: “..gave me an open eye into the world of research…now what I need to do is manage my time and put in my whole hearted effort into doing the best for poly life!”

  • CURRUMBIN WILDLIFE SANCTUARY PARK

For some students, it was their first time being up close and personal to some of Australia’s native animals – the koalas, wallabies and kangaroos. There was a huge area for the kangaroos to roam around and for visitors to pet and feed. There were also a few shows to catch – birds of flight as well as an aboriginal dance, featuring cultural songs and a didgeridoo player. All in all, the students enjoyed the trip to the sanctuary.


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