Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Writing PharmD Program-Level, Ability-Based Outcomes: Key Elements for Success

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Writing PharmD Program-Level, Ability-Based Outcomes: Key Elements for Success

Article excerpt

A set of PharmD program curricular outcomes form the foundation of a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum and are critical to the development of both the structure/courses of the curriculum and the assessment plan for the program. A goal for developing these outcomes is to craft a set of clear, concise, assessable statements that accurately reflect competencies of the generalist entry-level pharmacist or graduate of the first-professional doctor of pharmacy degree. This article will provide a review of one specific type of outcome, ability-based outcomes, and present a case study of how one college revised their PharmD program-level outcomes. A discussion of key elements for the successful adoption of these outcomes is also presented.

Keywords: ability-based outcomes, outcomes, assessment, curricular design, competencies


Producing graduates who are capable generalist entry-level pharmacists is a fundamental goal of pharmacy education. Huba and Freed (1) put forth the concept of the backward design of a curriculum to achieve this goal. This approach advocates creating a set of learning outcomes that explicitly define what students should be able to do as a result of completing a program of study, and then designing educational experiences to achieve those outcomes. So we design backwards and deliver forwards. (1) In addition to their role in the design of a curriculum, outcomes can also be used in assessing the adequacy of an existing program.

Zlatic described the role of ability-based outcomes (ABOs) in the context of pharmacy curricula and their assessment. (2) ABOs are defined as explicit statements de scribing what students can do as a result of instruction, ie, their abilities. These abilities require the student to integrate and apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes learned in the curriculum to specific pharmacy-related situations. ABOs therefore focus on the results of instructional experiences rather than on discrete knowledge, skills, or attitudes. (2)

Writing ability-based outcomes for professional pharmacy education requires specifying the abilities of the generalist entry-level pharmacist (ie PharmD graduate). The process must consider the influence of the external environments including both the health care environment and professional and regulatory bodies on the mission of the educational program. (3) In fact, regulatory requirements are set forth in the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's (ACPE) Standards 2007: "The curriculum must define the expected outcomes and be developed with attention to sequencing and integration of content and the selection of teaching and learning methods and assessments." (4)

Well-defined program-level outcomes have a key role in curricular design and assessment as conceptualized and depicted elsewhere. (5) Doctor of Pharmacy degree program-level ability-based outcomes can be defined as explicit statements describing what students will be able to do as a result of the integration of knowledge, skills, and attitudes gained by completion of the professional curriculum as a whole. (2) Course-level outcomes are similar except that they focus on what students will be able to do upon completion of a specified PharmD course. Table 1 provides examples of course and PharmD program-level ability-based outcomes. PharmD Program-level outcomes, as influenced by the external environment, can guide the development of educational experiences that constitute the curriculum as well as the assessment methods used to show the extent to which the outcomes are being achieved.

In 2004, the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy completed its self-study for ACPE accreditation. One of the action items from the self-study was to revise the PharmD program-level outcomes. This task was assigned to the College's Curriculum Committee. This paper describes the process used to develop the set of ABOs at this college and presents a set of 8 key points that may be helpful to others revising or writing program outcomes. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.