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Special patients, specialised care

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In most European countries, pharmacy students spend some time in hospital pharmacies to learn more about the different forms of practice they can choose once qualified as a pharmacist. Also, in our pharmacy, we welcome several students each year for an 8–10 week internship. Over the years we have developed an intense programme to show these students how the theory of their studies is applied in the practice of hospital pharmacy. At the end of the internship we ask them to write a brief essay, answering four questions:

  • Describe the concepts behind the management of our hospital pharmacy

  • How can you justify the employment of 30 pharmacists (which to Dutch standards is quite high for a 1200 bed university hospital)?

  • Please provide some recommendations on how we can do a better job

  • Can you describe some essential differences between community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy?

What surprises us almost every time is how little sixth year pharmacy students – even after 8 weeks of internship – have thought about some of the principles of hospital pharmacy. We all know that the organisational concepts behind a hospital pharmacy are quite different from a community pharmacy. The difference in scale, I think, is rather irrelevant. We have large community pharmacies and small hospital pharmacies, so there is overlap. Most community pharmacies are very much prescription driven, in contrast with most hospital pharmacies. Our ‘clients’ are predominantly nurses, doctors and medical departments, although the focus of our care is the patient. Hospital pharmacists play a more dominant role in determining the assortment of drugs we have, for example, via a drug …

Correspondence to Arnold G Vulto, Editor-in-Chief EJHP Practice & Science, Department of Hospital Pharmacy, Erasmus University Medical center, Rotterdam 3015 CE, Netherlands; editor.ejhp{at}

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