Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pathways to Improve Student Pharmacists' Experience in Research

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pathways to Improve Student Pharmacists' Experience in Research

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy (UMSOP) is a research-intensive public institution whose 4-year professional curriculum is administered for 2 years on the main liberal arts campus, then transitioned to an academic medical enter campus for the third and fourth professional years. The Department of Pharmacy Practice (DPP) has a presence on both campuses and responsibility for courses in all 4 years of the professional program. In 2009, DPP began discussions to change the format of the Seminar Skills Development for Health Professions II course (hereafter referred to as "seminar") from a presentation by fourth year (PY4) students describing advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs) to a capstone presentation that incorporated a student research project supported by faculty advisors. These discussions led to the development of a new DPP initiative, the Pharmacy Practice Pathway (frequently referred to as "Pathway"), which was adopted in 2010. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe the development and implementation of the Pathway program and to provide outcomes from the first 4 years of experience.

In 2009, the DPP transitioned leadership and the resulting strategic planning outlined an expectation of an increase in research and scholarship from faculty members. During this time, DPP discussions related to curriculum focused on the future of the pharmacy profession, the role of research and scholarship in education, and strategies to develop student ability to thoughtfully answer questions encountered in practice and other areas. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) 2007 Standards and Guidelines emphasized scholarship and research. Specifically, Standard 23, Guideline 23.4 referenced the need to implement strategies and programs to broaden professional horizons of students in areas such as scientific inquiry and the relevance and value of research. (1) With this guidance, DPP faculty members moved forward to broaden the learning objectives for the seminar course and to develop a longitudinal program with a research component.

A group of 6 DPP faculty members, who would later form the DPP Pharmacy Practice Pathway Committee, began the task of redesigning the PY4 seminar course and developing an overall 4-year program that incorporated best practices for research experiences. Prior to implementation, a review of literature and national search of best practices in capstone experiences was completed. A review of relevant literature supported the need for inclusion of research in schools of pharmacy curriculum. (2,3) In 2007, Murphy et al reported that about half (53%) the pharmacy schools in the United States required courses in research methods, but few (25%) required a research project and that these numbers had not changed significantly from the prior report in 1997. (2) In a response to the Murphy report, Ascione provided insight into the University of Michigan's decision to continue its research requirement, stating that the university recognized pharmacy research experience had a greater impact on students beyond exposing them to research careers. (3) He noted that graduates from the University of Michigan reported the research experience improved their decision-making skills, resulting in better marketability and more effective functioning in their careers. (3) The 2009 report of research skills training in US schools and colleges of pharmacy by Fuji and Galt sought to further delineate the types of research skills taught and whether the design and completion of a research project was a graduation requirement. (4) Most respondents reported teaching literature searching and critical literature evaluation (98%) and many taught interpreting research findings (75%) and selecting appropriate data-analysis procedures (61%). However, few respondents required actual study design (32%). Consistent with Murphy et al in 2007, Fuji and Galt reported that, of the schools of pharmacy responding, only 25% required completion of a research project for graduation. …

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