Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Impact of an Elective Diabetes Course on Student Pharmacists' Skills and Attitudes

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Impact of an Elective Diabetes Course on Student Pharmacists' Skills and Attitudes

Article excerpt


The need for doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students to acquire a thorough knowledge of diabetes is well recognized. (1-6) Some of the innovative educational approaches used to teach students about diabetes have included a Web-based interprofessional diabetes course, (2) student-facilitated patient care programs, (3,4) and a diabetes concentration. (5,6) In 2 PharmD programs, students simulated living the life of a diabetic patient by self-administering daily injections and testing their glucose levels. (4,5)

In 1997, students at the University of Minnesota initiated a diabetes experience through a student organization, Minnesota Pharmacy Student Alliance (MPSA). The experience was designed to give students the opportunity to simulate living as a person with diabetes for 5 days by completing daily glucose checks and daily "insulin" (using normal saline) injections. This project was started by a group of students who believed that experiencing the lifestyle of a person with diabetes would help them be come more empathetic when caring for these patients. In addition to the simulation, the experience included an introduction to carbohydrate counting, insulin dosing, and glucose monitoring, and writing a reflective paper describing the experience and its application to patient care. At that time, the experience was offered as a 1-credit directed study under the advisement of a faculty member. Each year, a student volunteer coordinated registration, donations, and purchases, and recruited faculty members to evaluate the reflective papers and provide feedback to the students.

The diabetes experience survived as a directed study organized by students for over 10 years due in part to the lack of faculty resources to run it as an official elective. In fall 2007, faculty members from both the Minneapolis and Duluth campuses expressed interest in serving as course directors for an elective diabetes experience course. The faculty members utilized the basic format from the student-organized directed study and further developed the structure to include other diabetes-related topics. The elective course was then approved by the faculty of the college and offered for the first time in spring 2008 under the direction of faculty course directors on the Minneapolis and Duluth campuses. This action formalized the experience, offered increased consistency in the learning experience from year to year and from campus to campus, and expanded the course content to include important diabetes-related topics.

Caring for patients with diabetes fits into Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) Standard 12, which states that professional pharmacy graduates must be able to provide patient-centered care. The described course is also in alignment with ACPE Standard 10, which states that professional programs should have both required and elective courses for students to pursue special interests. (7) The Diabetes Experience course provides an opportunity for students who have an interest in diabetes to gain an increased understanding about the condition, and improve their ability to empathize with diabetic patients, thereby increasing the likelihood that they will provide patient-centered care.

The diabetes experience elective course was intended to deepen students' understanding of diabetes and the impact of the condition on an individual's daily life. The course supplemented topics about diabetes covered elsewhere in the curriculum, provided a simulation experience, and provided detailed information about related topics such as gestational diabetes and pancreatic transplants. This paper provides an overview of the design of the elective course, and details an assessment completed during the 2009 spring semester to evaluate the impact of the course on students' skills and attitudes related to diabetes.

The diabetes experience course was designed to meet 3 learning objectives. …

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