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India - Survery of 1st Year Pharmacy StudentsĀ“s Computer Skills

A pharmacist in today's scenario has to use computers to perform many critical tasks. For example, they have to rapidly access patient and medication data, have to perform critical non-distributive activities, and document their actions as per norms. It is the likelihood that pharmaceutical computer applications will expand in the future.





Chordia Institute of Pharmacy, Gram New Baroli, Sanwer Road,

Indore 452010 {M.P.} +91-0731-6468899

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The purpose of this study was to determine first-year Bachelor of Pharmacy & first-year Diploma in Pharmacy student's computer backgrounds and attitudes. 221 students completed a survey that analyzed their computer knowledge, types of software they used, and attitudes about computers. The majority of students (159 students, 72 %) had used a computer at least once in a week. Most (153 students, 69 %) used computers for surfing internet; and (29 students 13 %) for assignment and other purposes while rest of the (39 students, 17 %) said they used computers in college computer laboratory only. Software usage includes a high percentage of MS-Word, Power-point & excel sheet; medium percentage of MS-Dos to a low percentage of languages, hardware & operating systems. About half (102 students, 46 %) said they could use a spreadsheet. Regardless of software they used, most of the students said that they are not proficient with applications they use. About 70% said they have positive attitudes towards learning computers, but 12 percent said they find it difficult while rest are not clear about their answers.

Students viewed computers as important parts of their professional education, but appeared to want courses that included both computer and human components. These findings suggest that faculty should consider differences in student's attitudes, experiences and adaptability with computers when planning a computer course or assignments. The faculty should also include innovations while teaching to change students mind towards pragmatic use of computers in the field of pharmacy.

* Corresponding Author


A pharmacist in today's scenario has to use computers to perform many critical tasks. For example, they have to rapidly access patient and medication data, have to perform critical non-distributive activities, and document their actions as per norms. The likelihood that pharmaceutical computer applications will expand in the future has been reflected in curricular guidelines of universities that suggest need of Pharmacy graduates to apply computer skills and technological advances to practice. Several factors have increased pharmacy students' use of computers. Pharmacy faculty suggested how computers can be used in pharmacy practice and can help students to acquire computer skills, assess students' confidence using computers, develop computer software to enhance student learning. Pharmacy colleges also recognized that their students need computer skills and to make computers accessible to all students. Curricular standards emphasize that graduates must be able to use computers in their future practice. Finally, an increase demand for certain types of professional services stimulates computer use in various types of pharmacy settings. Other health professions also recognize that computers could play key roles in education and practice. Many pharmacists recommended that pharmacy students must possess specific computer skills, earlier recommendations and emphasis on pharmacy colleges to develop the computer skills of students and faculty suggested that institutions should support introduction of computers into instruction with innovations. That support is evident with the widespread availability of computers in eighty-five pharmacy colleges under Rajiv Gandhi Proudhyogiki Vishwavidhyalayay, Bhopal (M.P.) to include computer technology in their curricula.

The above study suggested that the majority of students had used computers frequently during their entire course:

Table I. First-Year Students of different backgrounds reported software experience and expertise

First Year Students
of different field

  Pharmacy #

Medical *

Other Science background**

No. of  Students




#-Data as per study of 221 students of CIP, IIP & SCOPE.

*-As per data collected from M.G.M. Medical College.

**-As per data collected from M.B.Khalsa College


The above survey of first year pharmacy students of Chordia Institute of Pharmacy, Indore Institute of Pharmacy and Smriti College of Pharmaceutical Education suggested that students were moderately confident about using computers, most (76 %) did not own personal computers, and about 20 % of them had taken a computer course. Respondents from various pharmacy field reported that they used a variety of software applications. Pharmacy students, for example, indicated that they used computers for assignments, word processing, literature searches, and internet surfing. Some learners appeared quite apprehensive about learning to use computers. A survey of 221 pharmacy students, found that 18 percent were apprehensive about learning to use computers, learner expertise was low with the software they used. For example, 156 of 221 (71 %) pharmacy students said they could use a literature search program, but only 3 % students rated themselves as "expert" users. This diversity among students indicates that some need computer skills training and support to accomplish computer-based assignments. Planned learning activities-within a course and across a curriculum-can help individuals acquire and polish computer skills that they can use throughout their careers. (See Table II).

Table II. First-Year Bachelor of Pharmacy & Diploma in Pharmacy Students' reported software experience and expertise



No. of percents of respondents who said they could use it a

Number of percents of user's reported level of expertise




Word Processing




















Operating systems






( )= No. of students

The purpose of this study was to evaluate first-year pharmacy students' computer experience and attitudes. Specifically, it sought to answer these questions:

  1. Do students use computer in their daily use?
  2. What types of computer software do students use?
  3. What is their self-assessed level of expertise?
  4. What attitudes and concerns about computers do students have?
  5. What types of application they are proficient with?
  6. What types of application of computer they need in the field?
  7. What types of modification they need to make it more useful?

The answers to these questions were important in two ways. First, the survey results would provide faculty and administration with specific information about students' computer backgrounds. Faculty could use that information to meaningfully integrate computer activities (e.g., writing papers using word processing) into their courses. Administration could also use that information to allocate limited hardware and software resources. Second, the survey results would contribute to a growing body of knowledge about pharmacy students' computer experiences, skills, and attitudes. While this study addressed issues (e.g., pharmacy students' possession of personal computers) that had been previously explored, it also examined student's use of and self-assessed expertise in specific types of software applications.