Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Multi-Instructor, Team-Based, Active-Learning Exercise to Integrate Basic and Clinical Sciences Content

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Multi-Instructor, Team-Based, Active-Learning Exercise to Integrate Basic and Clinical Sciences Content

Article excerpt


The revised Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) standards place greater emphasis on the scientific foundation of practice competencies and their assessment. Specifically, ACPE standards 10 and 11 recommend integration of the curricular content and coordinated instruction across disciplines using appropriate assessment techniques, active-learning strategies, and other pedagogical approaches that enable students to transition from dependent to self-directed, lifelong learners. (1) Active-learning techniques are also recommended by ACPE to help students achieve desired learning outcomes. As a result, curriculum committees in many pharmacy colleges and schools are implementing programs that integrate basic sciences (such as physiology, pharmacology, and medicinal chemistry) with pharmacotherapy to better deliver program outcomes. Various active-learning strategies have been developed that are useful for mastering material in an integrated manner. (5)

The concept of integration has been emphasized in pharmacy education for more than a decade. (2) The benefits of integration have been recognized by pharmacy educators who have used various strategies to adapt their teaching to this approach. (3,4) Because the range of sciences that are relevant to pharmacotherapy are diverse, we hypothesized that integrated teaching and learning in pharmaceutical education could be best accomplished when individuals with expertise in specific disciplines worked together in the classroom at the same time.

At Texas A & M Health Science Center, Rangel College of Pharmacy, all the pharmacotherapy courses are delivered in a format that integrates pathophysiology, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, and pharmacotherapy content. These courses are taught in the second and third years of the PharmD curriculum. Two 2-credit hour integrated medicinal chemistry and pharmacology courses are taught in the first year. These preliminary courses cover functional groups and pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic principles, as well as adrenergic and cholinergic drugs. An introductory 4-credit-hour human physiology course is also required in the first year. Despite the adoption of an integrated curricular model, we have observed that basic sciences content has not been effectively used or appreciated by the pharmacy students when making clinical decisions. In order to more explicitly demonstrate the close integration of basic and clinical sciences in patient care, we designed the current study to involve faculty members from multiple disciplines in a single lesson that used active-learning exercises and emphasized the use of basic sciences knowledge in making effective clinical decisions.

The objective of this study was to effectively integrate basic sciences (physiology, pharmacology, and medicinal chemistry) with clinical sciences in a pharmacotherapy laboratory course using a multi-disciplinary, team-based, active-learning exercise. The desired outcome of this approach was to demonstrate the value of basic science concepts in making strategic and logical clinical decisions. In this paper we describe the implementation of a team-based teaching and learning exercise in a laboratory session of an integrated pharmacotherapy course in the subject area of depression in order to promote integration of basic sciences concepts with clinical sciences and to provide a platform to discuss multiple solutions for the same case, thereby achieving a higher level of learning. As team-facilitated content integration and active learning are 2 approaches that are central to the current pharmacy education culture, we also sought to determine whether the exercise altered student attitudes about the importance of these approaches to teaching and learning.


The project described here was exempted by the Texas A&M University Internal Review Board. The exercise was carried out in the Integrated Pharmacotherapy Rounds and Recitations course, which is a laboratory component of the Integrated Pharmacotherapy course. …

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