Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Journal Clubs during Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences to Teach Literature-Evaluation Skills

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Journal Clubs during Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences to Teach Literature-Evaluation Skills

Article excerpt


The concept of journal club originates in the medical profession and dates back over 150 years. (1) Linzer describes a journal club as "... a group of individuals who meet regularly to discuss critically the clinical applicability of articles in the current medical journals." (2) Given that a journal club provides an excellent forum for keeping healthcare professionals abreast of literature pertaining to their practice, improving understanding of research design and statistics, and teaching critical-thinking skills, it is widely used in medical, nursing, and pharmacy classroom and experiential education settings. (3,4)

The Center for the Advancement of Pharmaceutical Education (CAPE) Educational Outcomes require graduating pharmacy students to be able to "critically analyze primary literature with regard to study design, methodology, findings, and conclusions" as well as to "integrate evidence from the literature with clinical expertise and consideration of patient preferences to draw a conclusion." (5) To achieve this objective, many pharmacy colleges and schools incorporate journal clubs into their classroom curriculum and advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs). According to a survey by Cole and colleagues, drug-information experiences in pharmacy-degree programs incorporate journal club assignments 90% of the time. (6) Despite the prevalence of journal clubs in the pharmacy curriculum and their use by colleges and schools of pharmacy, however, little has been published about the use of journal clubs to enhance student learning of literature-evaluation skills, as assessed by pharmacy faculty members.

Over the past decade, assessment of student learning has become an important component of pharmacy education. To meet the accreditation requirements of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education--in particular, Standard 15 (Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning and Curricular Effectiveness)--colleges and schools are required to collect and use assessment data for program and course improvement to demonstrate institutional effectiveness. (7) The goal of this requirement is to foster development of "institutional curiosity," a term that refers to an institution's interest in exploring assessment. (8) When an institution develops curiosity about assessment, its faculty members will learn more about what and how students are learning and what methods and experiences are helping them learn.

Several previous studies have documented the educational value of journal clubs, but few have used a comprehensive approach to measure the content and extent of student learning from journal clubs. (9-12) The primary goal of this paper was to provide insight into how institutional curiosity was applied to examine student learning of literature-evaluation skills using journal club competencies during APPEs. A second objective was to explore if student learning of journal-club competencies, as measured by journal club grades, varied across APPEs.


The third-year curriculum at the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy (AMSCOP) is geared to instruct students in the critical evaluation of literature, in the context of statistical concepts and the application of clinically relevant study results to practice. In order to target a higher domain of learning, students are then expected to apply their literature-evaluation skills during the fourth year by completing 1 journal-club assignment in a required 2.5-week drug-information APPE and 2 journal club assignments in each of the 2 required 5-week internal medicine APPEs. The APPE syllabus outlines that the journal club articles should be drug related or pharmacotherapeutic in nature and that topics may include but do not have to be limited to comparative drug efficacy or effectiveness, adverse reactions/interactions, new drugs/new indications, drug stability with bioavailability and pharmacokinetic issues, and other pharmacotherapeutic, health-promotion, or disease-prevention studies (Appendix 1). …

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