Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Diabetes Self-Management Education Class Taught by Pharmacy Students

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Diabetes Self-Management Education Class Taught by Pharmacy Students

Article excerpt


Diabetes self-management education (DSME) is an ongoing process of teaching patients the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for diabetes self-care. (1) The clinical practice recommendations of the American Diabetes Association state that all clinical practitioners should recommend DSME to their patients with diabetes. (2) Currently, there is no required format for providing DSME. However, approaches to diabetes education that are interactive and patient-centered have been associated with positive patient outcomes. Many educational tools and curricula exist such as the US Diabetes Conversation Map Program. (3) Conversation maps are interactive educational tools used to guide provider-patient conversations. One or more of the instructors who facilitate DSME should be a registered nurse, dietician, or pharmacist. (1) Pharmacists can have an integral role in diabetes education, and exposing pharmacy students to opportunities to educate diabetes patients and use educational tools within the pharmacy curriculum may prepare students to provide DSME to patients.

A variety of active-learning educational techniques such as use of diabetes simulations, as well as elective courses and certificate programs, have been used to improve pharmacy students' knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to diabetes. (4-8) However, there are no published reports of group DSME classes facilitated by pharmacy students. A review of the literature revealed a single study that involved nursing student-facilitated DSME group classes using diabetes conversation maps. However, the study did not incorporate actual patients; rather some students role-played patients with diabetes while other students taught the DSME class. Participation in this exercise increased nursing student knowledge about diabetes and patient education techniques. (9)

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) encourages the use of actual patients in active-learning exercises according to Standard 11.10 In addition, the Center for the Advancement of Pharmaceutical Education (CAPE) outcomes highlight the importance of using actual patients when pharmacy students provide pharmaceutical care. (11) Group DSME classes for actual patients taught by pharmacy students fulfill these curricular standards and outcomes for active learning.

An assignment that involved organizing and teaching a group DSME class to patients at a free medical clinic was developed for third-year students at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) campus of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy and integrated into the curriculum of an elective service-learning course offered to health professions students at MUSC. The objectives of the study were to (1) determine the effect of organizing and teaching a group DSME class on pharmacy student confidence regarding DSME knowledge and skills and (2) assess pharmacy students' abilities to provide group DSME classes.


An interprofessional service-learning elective was offered to medical, physician assistant, physical therapy, and pharmacy students at MUSC in the fall and spring semesters. The course was team-taught by faculty members in the colleges of medicine and pharmacy. During the elective, students provided care to patients at a student-run free medical clinic and attended weekly class lectures. All students were provided grades for the elective course on a pass/fail scale. Teaching the group DSME classes for patients at the clinic was an additional assignment specifically for third-year pharmacy students enrolled in the elective. (12)

Incorporation of a group DSME class in the curriculum of a service-learning elective required the integration of diabetes and DSME knowledge, patient communication, and problem-solving skills. Organizing and teaching the DSME classes fulfilled specific ACPE accreditation standards and CAPE outcomes, while incorporating active learning into the curriculum through use of actual patients and emphasis on andragogy (adult-learning techniques). …

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