Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Learning across the Curriculum: Connecting the Pharmaceutical Sciences to Practice in the First Professional Year

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Learning across the Curriculum: Connecting the Pharmaceutical Sciences to Practice in the First Professional Year

Article excerpt


As health care educators, our goal is building a foundational educational framework that supports our students in becoming health care practitioners. As noted in Accreditation Council on Pharmacy Education (ACPE) guidelines, the curriculum must prepare students to practice today and in the future as the profession of pharmacy continues to evolve by equipping them with knowledge based in "good science" that is "evidence-based, logical, convincing, honest, testable and systematic." (1) In order to meet the Accreditation Council on Pharmacy Education's standards, all pharmacy programs must include both basic science and pharmacy practice courses. However, as increased emphasis is placed on clinical course work, it becomes more difficult for students to connect the pharmaceutical sciences, which are the foundation of the practice of pharmacy, to patient care.

The difficulty is not unique to pharmacy education. As noted by Weatherall (2) and Prince et al, (3) medical school faculty members also have difficulty linking the pharmaceutical sciences to patient care. Examples also are cited in the nursing and dental literature. (4,5) The basic science curriculum gives students a sound foundation on which to develop the skills necessary for patient-centered pharmaceutical care. Some pharmacy faculty members believe that the basic science knowledge is what separates a pharmacist from a technician. (6) Pharmacy faculty members are engaged in innovative pedagogical approaches to help their students form the connection between pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacy practice. Examples include redesigning courses to incorporate pharmacy-related examples, (7) intellectual games, (8) computerized cases studies, (9) and structurally-based therapeutic evaluation. (10)

At the University of Cincinnati Winkle College of Pharmacy, faculty members identified the need for innovative and creative teaching methods to help struggling students gain an understanding of this critical connection. Out of many discussions and brainstorming sessions, the College's Patient Care Project was created to help foster the student's ability to connect first-year science-based courses to the art of practice. The Project involves 10 faculty members from 8 different courses that span the entire first year (P1). This collaborative, integrated project was designed around 1 student-selected volunteer patient. The student completes individual assignments within both science and pharmacy practice courses culminating with the creation and presentation of a comprehensive poster. This manuscript will describe the collaborative, yearlong project that began in the fall of 2000.

The global learning objectives for the Patient Care Project are as follows:

* To advance the understanding of the relationship of the pharmaceutical sciences to pharmacy practice.

* To develop the student's ability to integrate knowledge gained from didactic course work to the care of a real patient.

* To promote the development of the student's ability to provide pharmaceutical care.

* To foster professionalism and professional behavior by promoting interactions between students and their patients, peers, mentors, and professors.

* To encourage scholarly activity early in the curriculum.

* To improve written and verbal communication skills across the curriculum.

* To cultivate each student into a lifelong learner.

* To build the ability of the student to empathize with the plight of others.


The Patient Care Project consisted of 15 individual assignments given in 8 courses over the first year of the curriculum (Appendix 1). Instructors were responsible for creating, grading, and evaluating assignments for their respective courses. Each assignment was designed to maintain patient confidentially and was compliant with health information privacy standards pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). …

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