Refai, Deema and Thompson, John L. (2014) Using Enterprise Education to Prepare Healthcare Professional Graduates for the Real-world. Industry and Higher Education Special issue: Enterprise Education and Entrepreneurial Learning, 28 (6). pp. 427-438. ISSN 0950-4222

Objectives: Every year, HEIs around the world provide an increasing number of graduates with professional degrees in various areas of healthcare including for example medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and podiatry. In most cases, these graduates will get the opportunity to develop a range of generic transferable skills during their HE. Yet, many of these become self-employed or responsible for managing a business, but are not always exposed to curricula that develop their awareness of the concepts of enterprise and entrepreneurship and their role in developing economies and societies, and, thus, do not have the necessary range of enterprise skills that they will need in the real-world, whether employed or self-employed.
This paper investigates the extent to which Enterprise Education (EE) is applied at professional health schools at HEIs to develop graduates’ ‘soft’ and ‘functional’ enterprise skills, and how effective the process of delivering this education is.
Prior work: Previous literature mainly deals with the application of EE through business and management schools, rather than professional ones. Yet, there is a call for researching EE and skills with more focus on exploring the methods and objectives of specific disciplines. At the same time, research investigating learning in professional degrees focuses almost entirely on the development of technical skills related to the discipline, without a general perspective on developing a wider range of enterprise skills.
Approach: The study draws on a qualitative research study in the pharmacy education context. Personal interviews with pharmacy employers and academics were carried out, and thematic analysis was applied to identify themes and codes.
Results: Despite that experiential and interactive learning approaches, which can support the development of graduates’ enterprise skills, are applied quite often at pharmacy schools, the application of these approaches is focused on discipline-related material and, therefore, can only support the development of graduates’ ‘soft’ enterprise skills. However, there appears to be resistance against developing graduates’ ‘functional’ enterprise skills in pharmacy disciplines, especially in light of the lack of awareness of the concept of EE among academics. The study offers some possible opportunities/propositions that could facilitate the development of more enterprising healthcare graduates, while highlighting the importance of raising the awareness of academics in this regard and embedding EE as part of schools’ philosophies.
Implication: This study should help professional health schools at HEIs decide more accurately on how to develop their graduates’ ‘soft’ and ‘functional’ enterprise skills, and address the needs of the real-world.
Value: This study directs the attention of HEIs to support developing professional graduates who are ready for the real-world, and who can support the growth and success of any organisation whether employed or self-employed.

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