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News - 09 May 2012

An interview with Chris Langley and Dawn Belcher

Chris LangleyPharmaceutical Press talks to Chris Langley and Dawn Belcher about their new book FASTtrack: Applied Pharmaceutical Practice, recording videos together, and their desert island essentials.


Pharmaceutical Press:  Congratulations to you both on the publication of the 2nd edition of FASTtrack: Applied Pharmaceutical Practice. Could you tell us what's new for this edition?

Chris Langley:  Many thanks - this edition has been revised throughout to bring the contents up-to-date. Specifically, we have updated the section on the community pharmacy contract, added information on new advanced community pharmacy services and reworked the examples and student questions.

Dawn Belcher:  Yes, as Chris says, one of the more important updates we have included in this second edition is to revise all the prescription labelling information in light of recent changes to the wording of the cautionary and warning labels. In addition, updated references and bibliography sections have been included.

Pharm Press:  How will this book help me pass my exams?

Chris Langley:  This book has been specifically designed with the student pharmacist in mind. We are aware that many students find the part of the MPharm degree which concentrates on the safe and efficacious supply of medicines tricky and we wanted to write a resource which specially addresses the needs of these students.

Dawn Belcher:  Between Chris and myself, we have over thirty years' experience of teaching this part of the undergraduate curriculum and we have employed this knowledge to tailor the book's contents. We have used the experience we have gained teaching this aspect of the course to our students to help us design the content and layout of the material.

Pharm Press:  Chris, one of your research interests is pharmacy education and policy, what do you find particularly rewarding about this area? Does your research influence the way you write textbooks?

Chris Langley:  Absolutely. Part of my research work does concentrate on the educational aspects of pharmacy and I have found this work very useful in helping us design a book which will hopefully become a useful resource for students on a modern MPharm course. Research within this arena is very rewarding and it is nice to see recommendations which come from your work helping shape national educational policy. Undergraduate pharmacy is changing - it has changed dramatically in the time I have been teaching - but one of the core roles for pharmacy will continue to be the supply of medication. As the pharmacists' role moves to a more clinical oversight of the supply processes, it is still vitally important that student pharmacists understand the mechanics of the processes. This text is designed to do exactly that.

Pharm Press:  How do you both find the process of writing a book together? Is it easy to agree on the final product?

Chris Langley:  A good question! Yes, it is not that hard to agree what needs to be included. Because we teach a lot of the material together on the course at Aston Pharmacy School, and have done for a large number of years, we tend to agree on most aspects. In addition, Dawn's background is in community pharmacy, whereas I have a hospital background so this difference works well when we put the text together.

Dawn Belcher:  The first book we wrote together was Pharmaceutical Compounding and Dispensing which comes with a collection of video clips to demonstrate the compounding of different dosage forms. Agreeing how to shoot each of the scenes and then working together for a week making sure each individual scene was perfect meant we learnt how to work together on project like this quite well. After that, all subsequent books have been easy!

Pharm Press:  If you were marooned on the proverbial desert island, what books or music would you want to have with you?

Chris Langley:  Separately, I assume! I don't read much fiction (I don't get the time in my job!) therefore, I would opt for something from Richard Dawkins I think.

Dawn Belcher:  I would take a selection of Jodi Picoult novels that my children have wanted me to read for years and I have never found time to listen to Bob Dylan - my husband's favourite so I might eventually realise what he had admired for years as I don't really think he can sing!

Pharm Press:  Anything else you'd like to say?

Chris Langley:  I think that the only thing I would say is that Dawn and I are always interested in feedback on the book, especially from students, and so if anyone has any comments, we would always be interested hearing them.

Dawn Belcher:  I would agree. This book, and its parent volume (Applied Pharmaceutical Practice), are both designed specifically with pharmacy students in mind. It is always useful to know what students think of it and which parts they find most useful, etc. Our students are happy to let us know if we ask but it would be good to know what students from other Schools of Pharmacy think.

If you have any feedback for the authors, please contact us at and we will be happy to pass it on.

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