Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Game Changers in Education and Health Care: Report of the 2012-13 Argus Commission

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Game Changers in Education and Health Care: Report of the 2012-13 Argus Commission

Article excerpt


The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Argus Commission is comprised of the five immediate past AACP presidents and is annually charged by the AACP President to examine one or more strategic questions related to pharmacy education, often in the context of environmental scanning. President J. Lyle Bootman charged the 2012-13 Argus Commission with a study of the "game changers" likely to influence AACP member institutions, faculty and learners.

Cynthia L. Raehl, Argus Commission Chair, initially identified five areas where significant changes are most likely in both the internal and external environment of pharmacy and health professions education. These included higher education, health care delivery, organizational management, information technology, and research and computational science. One or more reference texts were identified for each area and a member of the Commission accepted responsibility for reading source material, summarizing the contents and providing relevant interpretations on the significance of proposed changes on pharmacy education and practice.

This report will include a brief summary of these reports and then conclude with cross-cutting observations and recommendations for AACP and our members. Unequivocally, major game changing forces are in play that will influence pharmacy education and set the stage for what the Argus Commission came to appreciate may be a phase change rather than a slower and more evolutionary change process.


In his book Phase Change: The Computer Revolution in Science and Mathematics, (1) Robertson describes a phase change as that point in time when a very large change occurs very quickly--essentially instantaneously-after a relatively long period of time when very little change has occurred. He states that in order for a phase change to occur a system must be in a "critical state" and any attempt to extrapolate the behavior of a system before the phase change occurs will not be successful. He further states that the phase changes in science and mathematics gave scientists the ability to "see" things that could not be seen prior to the phase change.

Examples that were used to describe earlier phase changes included the invention of the telescope that allowed scientists to see distant planets and galaxies that were not able to be seen without a telescope, as well as the invention of the microscope or the x-ray machine that allowed one to see things that were not able to be seen with the naked eye. These inventions created a number of paradigm shifts because many of the things that were seen for the first time did not fit well into earlier beliefs. However, the introduction of the computer to science and mathematics created a totally new phase change of infinitely greater importance than any of the earlier discoveries.

In the biological sciences, the computer produced a phase change that allowed scientists to function at a much more sophisticated level. Not only have computers allowed us to observe structures at the molecular level, they have given us the ability to analyze the vast quantity of information obtained from these instruments that could not have been accomplished by the unaided human mind. To illustrate the phase change brought about from the introduction of the computer to the biological sciences, the completion of the Human Genome Project could not have been accomplished without the high level of sophistication offered by the computer. Additionally, the information encoded into the genome would not have been understood if the computer was not available to search out and analyze the functional components of the genome.

Many other fields in the biological sciences continue to accumulate larger and larger amounts of quantitative data that quite simply cannot be comprehended or analyzed effectively without the aid of the computer. …

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