Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Instructional Model for a Nonprescription Therapeutics Course

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Instructional Model for a Nonprescription Therapeutics Course

Article excerpt


The Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education outcomes describes an environment that allows students to develop ... pharmaceutical care plans that are patient-specific and evidence based." (1) Expectations for these experience-based models are usually focused on the fourth or experiential year of the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. Assessment of technologically mediated instruction should indicate that learning is dynamic and interactive. (2)

A consensus of teachers of nonprescription therapeutics courses was published in 2006. It presented justification and support for independent nonprescription therapeutics (self-care) courses in pharmacy curricula. It also gave specific recommendations for minimum course requirements and content. (3) Four years before these recommendations were published, the Creighton self-care faculty began course modifications to improve student outcomes as self-care therapists. Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions currently graduates approximately 110 campus-based doctor of pharmacy students annually. The 4-year professional program for pharmacy is preceded by a minimum of 63 hours of prerequisites.

Several factors encouraged the redesign of this course including: (1) the American Council on Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) 1997 guidelines and professional expectations of practitioners (Standard No. 10), (4) (2) student evaluations that indicated disappointment with content delivery of the existing course, (3) preceptor reports that pointed to weakness in student performance in the nonprescription aisle, (4) desire of the course instructors to create a classroom learning model that more closely resembled the interactions that take place in the nonprescription products aisle. Competence as a professional implies that students have factual knowledge that can be applied in the practice setting. (5) This goal of "Modeling Professional Behavior" became a theme for subsequent analysis. The combination of these factors and the goal of Modeling Professional Behavior prompted a reconsideration of the pedagogical structure of the Nonprescription Therapeutics course. The result was several modifications beginning in 2003 to support a more comprehensive and practical learning model.

In 2003 a mastery level learning model was instituted, an experiential process was emphasized, and active-learning activities were incorporated into a learner-centered educational model. The ultimate goal was to have nonprescription knowledge internalized as performance behavior. (6)

The educational literature is rich with a variety of models for behavioral approaches to learning. (7-16) Grades are a reasonable and commonly available proxy measurement for learning. (17) Mastery learning postulates that given sufficient opportunities, all students can learn. This model for instruction allows students to "acquire some basic intellectual competencies which will help ensure that they can undertake the subsequent learning demanded of them by their schools and eventually their vocations [professions]." (18) The model utilizes frequent graded activities and assessments to give students multiple opportunities to learn. In addition to the modifications discussed above, if students fail an examination (scores less than 80%), they are given an opportunity to take it again. According to Zimmerman and Dibenedetto, this will skew the usual bell-shaped curve around the point of mastery. (19) This manuscript describes the implementation, progression, and assessment of this course over 6 years.


The Nonprescription Therapeutics course was a 5credit-hour course (3 hours prior to 2002) that encompassed the traditional Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved nonprescription products. It also covered dietary supplements (nutraceuticals) and home medical equipment. The course was taught in the spring semester of the second year. …

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