UNIC Pharmacy Programme Introduces “Lab-in-a-Box”

An innovative educational tool that serves laboratory courses in times of pandemic

The University of Nicosia Pharmacy Programme has added a pioneering educational tool to its teaching and learning arsenal, namely, “Lab-in-a-Box”. This mobile science laboratory has allowed the Pharmacy Programme to continue offering its vital laboratory courses, ensuring that the practical training of its aspiring pharmacists proceeds unhampered even during a pandemic.

This innovative distance learning method is endorsed by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), especially in emergency situations, such as pandemics, while it is particularly useful where there are physical limitations to students attending class in a laboratory. The method allows lab exercises to be performed outside the laboratory, including in a student’s home, provided this is practical and safe.

In a nutshell, the activity involves the preparation of a box, which contains all essential materials, instruments, and reagents necessary to perform a laboratory exercise remotely. The box is either picked up by the students themselves, or else sent to their place of residence, depending on the circumstances.

Students are connected to the lab via a distance learning platform, while the instructor conducts the experiment live in the laboratory. Students are then called on to repeat what they have seen. There is constant audio-visual communication between the students and the instructor, to ensure they are properly guided through the process and so the instructor can oversee the course of the experiment.

Recently, students had the opportunity to prepare two ointments as part of their Galenic Preparations course. They utilised different methods of preparation and packaging, in preparing an ointment against colds and another against myalgia, as well as a paste for the treatment of diaper rash.

Mr. Michalis Petridis, the Associate Lecturer on the Pharmacy Programme who oversees the specific laboratories, pointed out that the pandemic crisis has presented an excellent opportunity to develop and implement new educational tools, even in instances that are traditionally reserved for a laboratory environment.

The “Lab-in-a-Box” method is expected to be further utilised in the coming semester, extended to the provision of continuous training seminars for professional pharmacists, especially as relates to galenic preparations.