Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Course Introducing the Principles of Pharmaceutical Care

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Course Introducing the Principles of Pharmaceutical Care

Article excerpt


Pharmaceutical care is defined as the responsible provision of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve a patient's quality of life. (1) Twenty years have passed since Hepler and Strand offered this definition, yet many would argue that the practice of pharmacy has not caught up yet with this vision. (2-4)

Pharmacy educators are given the responsibility to educate future pharmacists so they will be equipped with the required knowledge, skills, and attitudes to practice pharmaceutical care, not only upon graduation, but for a 40-year career. This can be a daunting task because it requires the educator to make predictions about what future practice will be. The 2007 Accreditation Standards and Guidelines from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) addresses these issues. (5) Standard 9 states that student pharmacists' learning must support current practice and equip the students to advance the profession. It also requires that students are able to identify and implement needed changes in the profession. Standard 11 states the curriculum must produce graduates with matured critical thinking and problem-solving skills and the ability to self-direct their own learning. Guideline 12.1 emphasizes the importance of understanding the facets of the ability to practice patient-centered care.

To meet these needs, our objective was to develop a course that introduces students to the process and application of pharmaceutical care. Delivered in the first semester of the students' second year in the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program at Belmont University, the goals of the course were to encourage the students to begin applying the concepts of pharmaceutical care, promote professionalism, and foster a connection among the pharmaceutical science classes and practice.

At its inception, Belmont University school of pharmacy's faculty members envisioned a program that blended pharmaceutical science and practice at its educational foundation with a complementary philosophy that students would benefit from a focus in 1 of 4 curricular concentrations identified as pharmacotherapy, management, informatics, and missions. This curricular model became known as Pharmacy-PLUS. (6) (See Table 1 for a brief description of each concentration.) Students are required to declare a concentration at the end of their second year, so this course is timely in meeting their need to learn about career paths. Consistent with the course objectives, exposure to the curricular concentrations was designed to teach students to apply the elements of the pharmaceutical care cycle to case studies exploring the problem-solving skills needed to practice in pharmacotherapy, management, informatics, and missions.


The instructors wanted to design the course to ensure that student pharmacists would develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to implement pharmaceutical care into their practice upon graduation. Incorporating active-learning strategies into a course is 1 method of ensuring that students apply learned information. Active learning incorporates the students' reading, writing, discussing, or becoming engaged in solving problems. (7) While active-learning strategies have been proven equivalent to lectures if the goal is to learn content, active learning is superior to lectures if the goal is to promote thinking skills. (7)

The course development was guided by D. Fink's integrated course design. (8) To ensure development of a learner-centered rather than a topic-generated course, the course designers began by determining what the students should achieve in the course. The following were identified:

* Explain Belmont University School of Pharmacy's 4 curricular concentration areas

* Describe the concept of pharmaceutical care

* Apply pharmaceutical care, specifically critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to the understanding and resolution of drug-therapy problems

* Identify drug-related needs of patients

* Collect data using a systematic approach

* Assess collected data and create patient care plans that include monitoring and follow-up

* Demonstrate a commitment to improving patient outcomes

The course's ability outcomes were to integrate and apply scientific and therapeutic knowledge to the delivery of evidence-based pharmaceutical care, and to develop skills of a professional, lifelong learner. …

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