Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Pharmacy Political Advocacy Elective Course

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Pharmacy Political Advocacy Elective Course

Article excerpt


Students of accredited doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) programs are expected to have some awareness and involvement in public health issues after graduation. (1) The Accreditation Council for Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) accreditation standards require that pharmacy students understand the health care delivery system in the United States, including the factors that may influence this care. (2) These standards require that pharmacy students learn pharmacy law and regulatory issues, but not necessarily how to change them. Pharmacy students also should understand how their involvement with pharmacy organizations potentially could affect regulatory and legislative issues. Most importantly, pharmacy students should be aware of the current and future roles of pharmacists as part of the health care team and the effect of health care reform on this role. The Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners has clearly stated that by 2015, "Pharmacists will be the health care professionals responsible for providing patient care that ensures optimal medication therapy outcomes." (3) Although this is explicitly stated, pharmacists will need to advocate for this expanded role in order to make it happen. Based on this, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has proposed that students learn more skills in leadership and advocacy as part of the AACP Curricular Change Summit. (4)

Little information is available in the literature regarding the incorporation of pharmacy advocacy into the curriculum. (5,6) A policy analysis project in a required Pharmacy Law and Ethics course taught basic law to pharmacy students and allowed them to propose changes in state laws to the state board of pharmacy. (5) However, this was a project within a required law course rather than an entire course devoted to pharmacy advocacy. As a result of a leadership and advocacy elective at the University of Maryland in collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University intended "to develop doctor of pharmacy students' leadership and political advocacy," (6) students and faculty members became more involved in advocating for the pharmacy profession. However, this course focused on developing leadership skills in an effort to create future leaders rather than promoting pharmacy advocacy in average pharmacy students who may not be interested in leadership positions.

A review of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) curriculum and discussion with course coordinators determined that minimal time was devoted to discussing current legislation that could affect the pharmacy profession or methods to affect this legislation. Periodic updates were given during the Health Care Systems and Management course, which is offered in the fall semester of the third year. Approximately 2 hours were devoted to advocacy but only as it related to Medicaid and Medicare. Student organizations minimally exposed students to the advocacy efforts of pharmacy organizations. Additionally, the newly integrated SCCP increased the requirement for electives to 8 hours. Because the previous curricula for the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy required fewer elective hours, faculty members were requested to develop more elective courses. To meet this demand and to increase student exposure to legislation and advocacy, the Pharmacy Political Advocacy elective was created.


The Pharmacy Political Advocacy elective was offered initially to second- and third-yearpharmacy students in the spring semester of 2008. Due to time constraints and room availability, however, the course was limited to second-year students. At this point in the curriculum, second-year pharmacy students had completed mostly basic science courses and an Introduction to Drug Information and Self-Care and Complementary Medicines course. During the same semester as the elective, students began their first pharmacotherapy course and an outcomes course. …

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