Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Scholarly Contributions of Required Senior Research Projects in a Doctor of Pharmacy Curriculum

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Scholarly Contributions of Required Senior Research Projects in a Doctor of Pharmacy Curriculum

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

To successfully practice in diverse and complex environments, pharmacists must be able to identify problems and to develop, test, and implement viable solutions. Research-related knowledge, skills, and experiences foster the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and facilitate the application of science and evidence-based medicine to patient care and health care environments. (1) The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy's 2011-2012 Argus Commission noted that student research skills help develop inquisitive pharmacists with attributes required for scholarly clinical practice. (2) Current and future accreditation standards for the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program and the Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) Educational Outcomes reflect the need for research-related knowledge and skills development for professional practice. (3-5) Professional organizations also advocate for including research-related coursework and experiences in the PharmD curriculum. (6-8) Recognition of the value of research-related knowledge and skills for pharmacists extends beyond the United States to international educational institutions and professional organizations. (9)

Multiple studies explore the prevalence of and perspectives associated with pharmacy and other health profession students' participation in research. (9-19) In general, students and faculty members agree that student participation in a required or elective research project is valuable and enhances students' academic experiences. Kim and colleagues surveyed students completing a required senior research project and found that 86% of those pursuing postgraduate training agreed or strongly agreed that research experience in pharmacy school made them more competitive for these opportunities. (11) Internal data from more than 300 alumni of our institution found that graduates from the more research-intensive curricular pathways reported significantly higher rates of engaging in scholarly activities since graduation. (20) Nevertheless, more than 65% of graduates from the least research-intensive pathway had also engaged in some sort of scholarly or research-related activity since graduation. Results from Sheaffer and colleagues' study of graduating students, postgraduate trainees, board-certified pharmacists, and newer faculty members suggested student participation in research may stimulate and promote interest in academic pharmacy. (21) Barriers to including research experience in the curriculum, however, are negative faculty perceptions of the time and resources necessary to implement and provide the required coursework and experiences. (9,10,13) Few studies have documented dissemination, including peer-reviewed publications, of pharmacy student research projects. (10,12,22)

Since 2002, students at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) School of Pharmacy have selected from 1 of 3 curricular areas of emphasis, or pathways: pharmaceutical care, health services and policy research, and pharmaceutical sciences. While the pathways vary in the required amount of direct patient care vs research-related experience, all 3 require completion of a capstone senior research project. The project takes place over the last 12 months of the program under the supervision of a faculty preceptor. Previous studies examined preceptor perceptions of and dissemination-related outcomes associated with pharmaceutical care pathway projects completed from 2002-2007 (10) and health services and pharmaceutical sciences pathway projects completed between 2002-2011. (22) The purpose of this study was to investigate dissemination-related outcomes for and preceptor perceptions of pharmaceutical care projects conducted during 2008-2011. When combined with previous research, these results allow for a complete classification of pharmaceutical care projects spanning a 10-year period and for comparison of project outcomes across all 3 pathways since the inception of the required senior research project. …

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