Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Four Rights of the Pharmacy Educational Consumer

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Four Rights of the Pharmacy Educational Consumer

Article excerpt


Rising tuition costs and diminished college affordability (1) have forced most individuals and families to view higher education as a significant economic investment. Although the "students as consumers" model of higher education has been widely admonished as detrimental to graduates, faculty members, and the workforce, (2,3) colleges still have fiduciary responsibilities to honor with regard to their students. As an extension to the previous work in the area of academic entitlement, (4) we examine what students should rightfully expect from a college or school in return for their financial and time investment. Specifically, we delineate entitlement-laden requests from appropriate and reasonable expectations that colleges and schools should be prepared to meet. Although the differences are sometimes subtle, the recognition is important so that student needs are not summarily dismissed.

While Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) guidelines (5) dictate processes to ensure quality education, the authors look beyond the actual statements to discuss the underlying principle of providing appropriate value to students. Value is provided in terms of transactional and educational interactions, both of which should be considered by families and students during the school selection process. Regardless of the extent of finances invested by families toward higher education, the authors advocate that students have 4 fundamental rights that should be honored by their college or school. In this paper the term "rights" is not used in the legal sense, but rather as a moral obligation to be met by educational institutions. These 4 rights are what we believe to be fundamental to colleges' and schools' fiduciary responsibilities to students.


At the very core, students enrolled in higher education should be provided with every opportunity to learn. Opportunity is the key term in this concept, with the realization that colleges and schools cannot simply provide learning to students who are unmotivated or ill equipped to do so. A consumerist-minded student feels that an education is purchased, whereas in reality, the opportunity to learn is the consumer good acquired in that transaction. (6) Education is the proverbial 2-way street, with both students and instructors actively involved in the process of learning.

It is incumbent upon schools and faculty members to ensure that multiple and sufficient opportunities to learn are readily available to students. Learning occurs through various means inside and outside of class, including lectures, reading, writing, homework assignments, studying with other students, discussions with professors, the "unofficial curriculum," professional assimilation, etc. Students choose the extent to which they take advantage of these opportunities. Many students eagerly seize every opportunity they can accommodate, while others are content to complete minimum requirements. Regardless of individual student interest, faculty members should carefully develop multiple and varied learning opportunities and encourage students to participate.


In spite of the various pressures to increase institutional revenue through research or clinical activity, it is the faculty's responsibility to demonstrate commitment and dedication to educating students. (7) It is incumbent upon faculty members to devote sufficient time and interest to teaching despite heavy research, administrative, and/or clinical roles. The disgruntlement and frustration by students who sense that instruction they receive is secondary to faculty members' other duties and obligations are valid. (8) Furthermore, professional students should expect that their faculty members and instructors are committed to lifelong learning and continuing education within their field or specialty, as well as continuous focus on improving teaching skills. …

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