Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Professional Competencies Learned through Working on a Medication Education Project

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Professional Competencies Learned through Working on a Medication Education Project

Article excerpt


Societal changes and changes in health care have had a great impact on the field of pharmaceutical practice and on pharmacy as a profession, making it necessary for pharmacists to possess some generic competencies. Furthermore, since pharmacists often work as managers, interpersonal competencies such as working with different people, social interaction, cooperation, and giving and receiving feedback are particularly essential.

As a part of the European Tuning Project, a largescale consultation was organized among graduates, employers, and academics to identify the most important generic competencies needed for each of the academic fields involved. (1) As a result, 3 different types of generic competencies were distinguished: instrumental competencies, interpersonal competencies, and systemic competencies. Instrumental competencies include cognitive, methodological, technological, and linguistic abilities; interpersonal competencies encompass individual abilities like social skills, social interaction, and cooperation. Systemic competencies include abilities and skills that involve whole systems, like a combination of understanding, sensibility, and knowledge. These generic competencies are in accordance with the ability-based outcomes that the Center for the Advancement of Pharmaceutical Education (CAPE) has recognized in the United States. (2) Traditional thinking is that once you learn something at school, you can transfer your knowledge and apply it in different situations. This view, called learning transfer, has been challenged and some have concluded that learning is situational. (3) This may be the case, especially when obtaining some generic competencies that cannot be taught. In fact, they are acquired or developed by the student or learner during the process of learning. (1) This means the traditional behaviorist approach to teaching, where students are passive listeners to information, is not sufficient; students have to be engaged as active participants in the learning process. Thus, a learner-centered constructivist approach that emphasizes students' active participation is valuable. Project-based learning is one of the methods grounded in constructivism; it supports student engagement in problem-solving situations. (4,5)

Furthermore, it involves a societal context and participation in a community of practice as a critical aspect of learning. (3,6)

Project-based learning is a relatively long-term process that engages students in the investigation of authentic problems. During the project, students argue and apply information, concepts, and principles that enhance deep understanding. In project-based learning it is possible to improve competency in thinking, as the students need to formulate plans, track progress, and evaluate solutions. (7) Thomas concludes in his review that projects are complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve students in planning, problem-solving, decision-making, or investigative activities; they give students the opportunity to work relatively autonomously over extended periods of time; and they culminate in realistic products or presentations. (4)

Many new approaches and methods for improving the clinical and problem-solving skills of pharmacists, such as simulated and virtual patients, and especially problem-based learning (PBL), have been used in the field of pharmacy since the 1990s. (8-10) However, the project-based learning method, which is close to but not the same as PBL, has rarely been used. (11,12) The aim of this study was to discover what kinds of competencies students learned during their projects, and furthermore, to describe their experiences of project work as a method of university teaching.


Project Work in Social Pharmacy

The Project Work in Social Pharmacy course has been included in the curriculum at the University of Kuopio (since 1.1.2010 University of Eastern Finland) since a pharmacy program was started there in 1973. …

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