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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of pharmacy students in Canada with particular emphasis on the factors involved in the choice of field within the profession Hornosty, Roy Walter


Using the questionnaire method, data were collected on 1335 students, or 85 per cent of all students enrolled in Canadian schools of pharmacy during the 1961-62 academic year. The data are assembled in this presentation in an effort to provide (i) a general descriptive study of pharmacy students, and (ii) a detailed analysis of the factors leading to the choice of field within the profession. The descriptive portion of the study focuses on four sets of factors, those being: (i) social background factors, including ascribed characteristics (sex, socioeconomic status, religion, urban-rural residence, and geographic region) and achieved characteristics (practical experience, occupational inheritance, and high school grades), (ii) sources of information and influence, ranging from practice-oriented sources (those oriented to the practice of the profession) to ideology-oriented sources (those geared to the goals toward which the profession is striving), (iii) occupational values, including intrinsic-people-oriented-extrinsic values, business, entrepreneurial, and independence values, and (iv) the age at which a career in pharmacy is first considered and finally chosen. The findings show that students with different social backgrounds vary in the amount of contact with the profession; that practice-oriented sources of information and influence generally are more important than ideology-oriented sources; that pharmacy students hold positively values which, according to Rosenberg’s "continuum of psychological distance," are ambivalent; and that students who differ in the age of first considering and finally choosing pharmacy vary in social background, derive information and influence from different sources, and feel differently about their chosen profession. The choice of field is analysed in accordance with an analytic scheme which attributes independent causal significance to three sets of factors: social background factors, sources of information and influence, and occupational values. According to this scheme, the latter two sets of factors, although exerting some independent influence, are thought to be affected by the former. In a purposive sample achieved and ascribed social characteristics are expected to be related. The findings generally are consistent with the analytic scheme. Occupational alternatives within the profession are arranged along a continuum (B-P continuum) from retail pharmacy, the most business-like of the fields, to prescription pharmacy, to hospital pharmacy, to the residual fields, which are regarded as most profession-like. Students who choose a field at the business end of the B-P continuum, as compared with those who choose a field at the profession end, tend to enter pharmacy with more practical experience; to have parents and, to a lesser extent, relatives in the profession; to have lower high school grades; to utilize practice-oriented, as opposed to, ideology-oriented, sources of information and influence; and to hold positively extrinsic, as opposed to intrinsic, business, independence, and entrepreneurial values, together with the value, "meet the public and deal directly with people." The choice of field is independent of the factor of socio-economic status but varies with the factors of sex, religion, urban-rural residence, and geographic region. Although these findings may be explained partly by the intervening variables considered above, there is some evidence to support the view that social background factors play an independent part in the choice of field by affecting the visibility, accessibility, and "social appropriateness" of career alternatives. By juxtaposing ascribed social factors, achieved social factors, sources of information and influence, occupational values, and the choice of field, and by considering the relationships among these sets of factors, the author gives an account of the process by which pharmacy students choose a field within the profession.

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