“The past two years have been really intense at the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and changes are not over yet.”, said Dr. Romána Zelkó, outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences who headed the faculty from 2013. In the past few years the faculty has undergone a significant educational development reform, a decision on the development of the Hőgyes–Schöpf-Merei campus has been made and she also had to handle the challenges posed by the coronavirus.

Significant educational developments were made during her first term as dean, the programme and the methodology of vocational and further training were completely renewed. In the 250th anniversary year of Semmelweis University’s foundation a complete curriculum reform was introduced, affecting the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences as well.

“The new curriculum takes the demands of the labour market as well as the altered role of the pharmacist into account and provides a practice-oriented training that enables students to gain competitive knowledge in all areas of pharmacy.”, said Dr. Romána Zelkó. The last major educational reform of pharmaceutical education took place in the second half of the 1980s. Since then labour market demands have significantly changed in the field of pharmaceutical sciences.

“The pharmacist is responsible for understanding in depth the relation between the patient and the pharmaceutical product with regards to the drug’s quality, safety and efficacy and the patient’s cooperation and adherence during therapy. Accordingly, when designing the new curriculum, we sought to emphasize the practical aspects of the pharmacist’s competences and activities and the proper application of scientific knowledge and skills to create a patient-centred approach. Courses on professional know-how are introduced early on and we expect to reduce the risk of dropping out by the introduction of a more evenly organized study schedule and by reinforcing professional attachment and commitment. Together with the Hungarian Chamber of Pharmacists we launched an educational programme to help students prepare for their final exams and to assist them in finding a job in public pharmacies after graduation.”, said Dr. Romána Zelkó.

Dr. Romána Zelkó believes the transformation of the Hőgyes–Schöpf-Merei block provides a fantastic opportunity for the faculty. Currently, the departments of the faculty are located in different buildings and part of the training takes place at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Eötvös Loránd University.

“This development will greatly improve the educational infrastructure and will create a state-of-the-art educational environment. The new building will not only affect undergraduate courses but will also expand the possibilities for vocational and specialized trainings. In addition, it will serve as a research centre providing new and modern infrastructure for research activities at the faculty.”, explained Dr. Romána Zelkó.

The faculty accommodates the University Pharmacy Department of Pharmacy Administration, which will also benefit from the investment: it will be able to supply not only the university’s departments with drugs and medicinal products produced in the Hőgyes–Schöpf-Merei block, but may also become a provider of certain products in short supply, special IV fluids and custom-made drugs. The professional concept and the organizational plan have already been drawn up.

The Faculty of Pharmacy has been performing well in scientific rankings, and has been among the 200 best institutions according to the specialist lists of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) for years. According to Dr. Romána Zelkó, intense publication activity plays an important role in making the faculty reach prestigious positions: the academic performance of faculty and research groups is outstanding. According to the outgoing dean, they can even achieve better results in this field if they further strengthen cooperation with the university’s other faculties and departments.

In the last months of her term as dean, Dr. Romána Zelkó also had to handle the challenges posed by the coronavirus.

“I believe, the faculty made the transition to online learning smoothly. We had previously used e-learning as well, therefore the system was not unfamiliar. Fortunately, the sudden change did not pose difficulties for either faculty or students. Final exams were completed without hindrance and the doctor’s inauguration ceremony could be held only with a little delay. Digital education gave us a new tool, even if our training is extremely practice oriented. It cannot be replaced by online tools but certain elements can be incorporated in the curriculum.”, she said.

She has been working together with her successor, Dr. István Antal for a long time. They have common roots as they both started their careers at the Department of Pharmaceutics and had common research topics, publications and doctoral students and even worked together as deputy deans. Dr. István Antal not only has a huge insight and experience in the field of pharmaceutical sciences, but has also had experience in a leading position.

Dr. Romána Zelkó will continue to play a leading role in the life of the faculty, as her position as director of the University Pharmacy Department of Pharmacy Administration has recently been renewed for another 5 years. She is still committed to heading the department’s research group and she is also head of the Doctoral School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. She also wants to continue to support the faculty’s development efforts and seeks to take part in the development of the Hőgyes–Schöpf-Merei campus.

“There are a lot of beautiful tasks ahead of me and I hope I will have all the luck, health and momentum necessary to achieve my goals.”, said Dr. Romána Zelkó.

Ádám Szabó
Photo: Attila Kovács – Semmelweis University
Translation: Ágnes Raubinek