Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Elective Course on Application of Clinical Pharmacy Principles

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Elective Course on Application of Clinical Pharmacy Principles

Article excerpt


Standard 11 of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accreditation standards states that programs must use and integrate teaching and learning methods "fostering the development and maturation of critical thinking and problem-solving skills" and "enabling students to transition from dependent to active, self-directed, lifelong learners." Further, ACPE accreditation standards stipulate that active-learning strategies be used throughout curricula to foster student learning and achievement of ability outcomes. (1) Various implementations of active learning used to teach pharmacotherapeutic topics, including problem-based learning (PBL) in conjunction with case-based learning, have been described in pharmacy education. (2) Application of skills has been suggested for teachers as a means of transitioning their concept of learning toward more consequential knowledge construction. A key strategy described to overcome barriers throughout a pharmacy curriculum is to provide numerous relevant examples. (3)

Along with ACPE's standards, the educational outcomes developed by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Center for the Advancement of Pharmaceutical Education (CAPE) address the need for courses in pharmacy curricula offering educational opportunities to provide patient-centered pharmaceutical care. (4) Self-directed learning has been defined as "a process in which individuals take the initiative, with or without the help of others, in diagnosing their needs, formulating learning goals, identifying human and material resources for learning, choosing, and implementing appropriate learning strategies and evaluating learning outcomes." (5)

Based on the experience of 4 clinical faculty members who also served as preceptors during advanced practice pharmacy experiences (APPEs), additional student-focused development in the area of self-directed learning and critical thinking was identified as a need at the University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Pharmacy (ULM COP). While student knowledge was deemed appropriate, students in classroom training seemed to lack confidence in applying their knowledge to patient care situations. To further prepare ULM pharmacy students to meet these outcomes, an elective course using PBL was developed and offered to third-year (P3) students.

Problem-based learning has been described as both a curriculum and a process that demands from the learner "acquisition of critical knowledge, problem-solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills." (5) Consistent features of PBL that have been identified include the presentation of a problem without providing the information necessary to solve it, small-group work, and guidance provided with feedback by a facilitator. (6) In a previous study, students entering their APPE reported confidence in the material they had been taught using PBL, specifically medical information, basic science content regarding disease states, and patient-specific drug regimen evaluation. (7)

Bookstaver and colleagues described an elective course focusing on evidence-based medicine to improve student performance in APPEs. (8) While there were several similarities to our course including a small class size and real-life patient case scenarios, the elective course described here differed in that it was designed to encourage self-directed learning and the enhancement of problem-solving skills in a PBL format. We describe the design and implementation of the first offering of the Problems in Therapeutics elective course and the impact of the elective course on students' attainment of course outcomes (Table 1) and level of confidence related to problem-solving skills and application to patient care situations.


Problems in Therapeutics was a 15-week, 3-credit hour elective course offered to P3 students during the fall semester. Four faculty members at the level of assistant professor coordinated the course and were responsible for all course components. …

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