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Case Study

Jess Barlow

Chester-Le-Street, UK

BSc (Hons) Biopharmaceutical Science with Integrated Foundation Year

MPharm (Pharmacy)


After working in a pharmacy as a dispenser for a number of years, Jess saw first hand the impact pharmacists had on people in the local community and aspired to one day become a pharmacist herself.

I left school never really knowing what career path I wanted to go down, and therefore I didn’t go to university straightaway, but instead started work as a dispenser. I really enjoyed the job and had a genuine interest in what I did and that’s when I decided to go to university to pursue becoming a pharmacist.  

The University of Sunderland came highly recommended to me from a lot of my work colleagues who are Sunderland graduated. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough UCAS points to get onto the MPharm degree straightaway. I investigated my options and found the Integrated Foundation Year. I managed to get in touch with Kevin, the programme leader, and I honestly could not have got through it without him. I had the option of either studying the IFY at the University or studying an Access course at a local college. Kevin helped me weigh up the pros and cons of each and without a doubt I feel as though I made the right choice.  

My favorite part of university is that I really have an interest in what I am studying and that I can see a clear path of where I want to end up one day. I really enjoy how interactive some of the seminars and labs are as I am a very hands-on learner, so they are always fun. Even though the IFY was all online last year due COVID all the lectures were still so interactive and kept you interested, so I don’t feel as though we missed out not being face to face. Also, I have met some lovely people in my year too who I get along well with which makes the experience so much better.  

I honestly couldn’t recommend the Integrated Foundation Year enough for people who are in the same boat as me. As a mature student, the best advice I could give to others is don’t let age put you off going after what you want. I always had the view that I would be too old to go to university and I couldn’t have been more wrong. There is a few of us in my year all around the same age and in the same situation in life; we have all become friends. Most of the staff (especially Dr Kevin Handle) are all so helpful and want you to succeed so don’t be afraid to ask for help.  

I’m now on my first year of MPharm after passing the integrated foundation year and I hope to become a fantastic pharmacist one day.”  

Published 7 April 2022

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