Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Capstone Course with a Comprehensive and Integrated Review of the Pharmacy Curriculum and Student Assessment as a Preparation for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Capstone Course with a Comprehensive and Integrated Review of the Pharmacy Curriculum and Student Assessment as a Preparation for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The Accreditation Council for Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) Standards focus on ensuring student development in patient care as well as instilling competence and confidence for collaborative practice with other health care providers. (1,2) Standards 10, 11, and 13 specifically call for not only integration of curricular content, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills but also reinforcement and advancement throughout the curriculum. Appendix D in the Standards lists various performance domains and abilities students are expected to achieve before they start APPEs. Schools and colleges of pharmacy use various methods to instill and assess these core abilities in students such as introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs), simulations, practice laboratories, end-of-term examinations, OSCEs, and comprehensive examinations.

Capstone courses are not new to academia. Disciplines such as nursing, basic sciences, veterinary medicine, and sociology and gerontology have reported incorporation of capstone courses in their curricula. (3-7) Capstone courses are unique in that they can be utilized for both teaching and assessing student knowledge and skills. Several schools of pharmacy have implemented capstone courses in their curriculum. (8-10) There are few published papers describing capstone courses in pharmacy, and there is a variety of course design among the courses described, ranging from a 5-week APPE research rotation, to a diabetes camp, and a 2-credit hour pharmacotherapy course to improve clinical documentation skills. (8-10)

Capstone courses help institutions achieve and assess the ACPE Standards and help students transition from didactic to experiential portions of the curriculum, and from academic to independent professional practice. (8-11) The capstone course is designed as a culminating experience that focuses on integration and synthesis of knowledge already gained throughout the didactic curriculum and that gives students an opportunity to apply their clinical and practice skills. Additionally, assessment of student outcomes and student self-assessment are important aspects of capstone courses. (12)

The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) School of Pharmacy (SOP) in Suwanee, Georgia has an integrated 4-year curriculum that follows a 3-term (13 weeks each) academic calendar. The curriculum includes a capstone course offered during the spring trimester of the third academic year, the last term of didactic curriculum. The purpose of the capstone course is to provide students with a comprehensive and integrated review of the pharmacy curriculum as a final step to ensure they are prepared to begin the APPE. A secondary goal of the capstone course is to prepare students for examinations by simulating the North America Pharmacy Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Georgia State Board of Pharmacy Practical Examination which, consists of a wet laboratory, errors and omissions (E&O), and a verbal clinical case.

We felt that a case-based, learner-focused approach was the most appropriate course design to help students transition from the predominantly didactic to the experiential portion of their education and to foster independent learning. The cases were designed to imitate typical clinical situations that students should be prepared to encounter in the APPE. Learning objectives included patient-centered care, drug therapy, disease states, drug information, literature evaluation, and calculation and compounding. The capstone course offered at PCOM is unique in that it is designed to encompass a broad spectrum of topics to ensure competency in pharmacotherapy, calculations, pharmacokinetics, compounding, and verbal and written communication skills in students prior to the APPE.

DESIGN

This study received exemption from the Institutional Review Board.

A 3-pronged strategy integrated in the capstone course design sought to review significant topics from the curriculum, instill confidence in students by evaluating individual student skills, and assess student readiness for APPEs. …

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