Here, pharmaceutical experts are educated to make Swedish healthcare even more efficient


With the task to optimise each patient's drug situation, the clinical pharmacists have in a short time become a welcome reinforcement in the Regions' care teams. At Uppsala University, Sweden's only Master's Programme in Clinical Pharmacy is offered, and the demand for the students' competence is high.

As humans live longer and longer, we also suffer from more diseases. With ill health, the need for drug treatments increases, and the more prescription drugs we use, the greater the risk of drug-related problems. A doctor's assignment includes medical responsibility for each patient, but since 2012, the Uppsala Region employs clinical pharmacists that, with their expertise, help the care team to see the entirety of the individual patient's drug situation. With the achieved success, other Regions have chosen to follow Uppsala's example, and today the demand for clinical pharmacists is high.

Maria Swartling, the Department of Pharmacy

“At Uppsala University's Master's Programme in Clinical Pharmacy, Sweden's only education for clinical pharmacists, we currently have 22 full- and part-time students. This is still a relatively young profession, so research, teaching and profession develop hand in hand. We collaborate with twelve Regions on internship, and keep a continuous dialogue about what knowledge employers demand,” says Maria Swartling, program co-ordinator and doctoral student at the Department of Pharmacy.

The program mainly attracts newly graduated pharmacy students and pharmacists at public authorities and pharmacies who want to take the step to healthcare, but also clinical pharmacists who already work in the Regions and want to further improve their knowledge. The program's flexible approach with a focus on distance studies, internships available in large parts of the country and possibility to choose the pace of study combined with a favorable labor market contributes to a steady and high application pressure.

“Many of our students are attracted to working so near the patients, but an equally important task for the clinical pharmacist is to contribute to the development of care and profession. Today, we are five teachers with roots in both research and clinics who teach at the program. In collaboration with supervisors at the Regions, we assist students to independently identify and carry out a Degree project with long-term relevance for the clinic where they do their internship,” says Maria Swartling.

Emma Hargeby, Region Gotland

At Region Gotland, Emma Hargeby works as a clinical pharmacist. She was previously employed at the Uppsala University hospital, responsible for reconciling lists of pharmaceuticals, but felt that she had competence gaps to fill. For two years, Emma gained new knowledge at the Master's Programme in Clinical Pharmacy. After graduating, she was ready to move home to Gotland to become the island's first and only in her profession.

“Working in a smaller Region means that the tasks vary. Most of my time I perform the basis for drug reviews, mainly at Visby hospital but also at health care centers around Gotland. I also have administrative duties and participate in the Pharmaceutical Committee of Gotland. The role is very free, which makes it nice to have the network and the knowledge from the education in clinical pharmacy to lean on,” says Emma Hargeby.

In 2017, the Master's Programme in clinical pharmacy was evaluated. The verdict was clearly positive with an extra plus for effective interaction between theory and practice and the education's strong professional connection. The Degree project each student carries out provides a basis for an academic career - as recently as November 2020, an alumnus defended his dissertation at Umeå University - but also competence to conduct studies and publications as an employee in the Regions after graduation.

“We are approaching an evaluation among our partners in the Regions, but already know that our alumni stand out by quickly becoming independent in their professional roles. We see this as proof that the program provides relevant knowledge, and will next increase our connection to primary care, for example via placements during internships. We see how a majority of the Swedish Regions are now strengthening their competence in clinical pharmacy, and it is obvious that our profession has in a short time become a well-integrated part of the country's care teams, states Maria Swartling.

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Maria Swartling, program co-ordinator, PhD Student
Department of Pharmacy, Uppsala University

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Faculty of Pharmacy

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Last modified: 2022-11-08