Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

AdvoCaring: A Cocurricular Program to Provide Advocacy and Caring to Underserved Populations in Baltimore

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

AdvoCaring: A Cocurricular Program to Provide Advocacy and Caring to Underserved Populations in Baltimore

Article excerpt


Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy (NDMU SOP) was established in 2008, and the first class of student pharmacists was admitted in fall 2009. The school offers a 4-year professional curriculum. A key component of the curriculum at the school is the AdvoCaring Program for which there is an ongoing partnership with nonprofit agencies. This program supports the school's mission to educate student pharmacists to be compassionate, ethical professionals who improve medication use and provide quality care to a diverse population; develop leaders and advance public health.

Through participation in AdvoCaring, students ideally apply the skills and knowledge learned throughout their education to the communities they serve. Cocurricular hours provide students with opportunities to apply their skills and engage in experiences that cannot be readily provided in a formal classroom setting. Examples of student engagement in cocurricular activities include single exposures, (1) individual courses, (2-4) elective courses, (5-7) and specific events. (8-10) Each student at the school is required to complete 10 cocurricular hours each semester, and the AdvoCaring program accounts for seven of the 10 required hours. Unlike the models noted above, the AdvoCaring program was developed as a 4-year longitudinal experience for students designed to achieve four goals: (1) provide an opportunity for students to apply the skills and knowledge taught in the classroom; (2) meet the health related needs of partner agencies on a longitudinal basis; (3) provide a longitudinal opportunity for students to work with a single partner agency so the impact of activities can be sustained; and (4) give students the opportunity to work with diverse populations.

To achieve the stated goals, AdvoCaring applies a unique longitudinal design approach to service learning in which each student is assigned to a partner agency for the duration of the 4-year program. Every two years, another group is assigned to the same agency. This approach assures agencies of the school's commitment to sustaining effective initiatives and follow up while giving students the opportunity to experience the impact of their initiatives over time. Using a layered-learning approach, third-year (P3) and fourth-year (P4) students work with first-year (P1) or second-year (P2) counterparts, respectively, to train and facilitate the sustainability of the partnership.

Additionally, all partner agencies provide services to underserved populations. With the release of the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education Standards 2016, elements of AdvoCaring were reviewed for alignment and were found to provide students with the opportunity to develop the affective domain as noted in Standards 3, 4, and 12, and to meet elements for public health (Appendix 1). (11,12) Additionally, since the program is connected to several courses and is included in all years of the curriculum, students are able to practice skills and concepts learned as they progress in their knowledge and skill development. Thus, AdvoCaring offers a comprehensive and integrated approach to student learning.


During the initial planning phases of the curriculum for the school in 2008, steps were taken to incorporate early and ongoing practice of skills that would benefit students and meet the health care needs of Baltimore. The opportunity to create a curriculum that took a holistic approach to pharmacy education and could be of service to the diverse communities of Baltimore and surrounding areas allowed for conceptualization of this program, which was developed over 1.5 years of discussion, revision, partnership development, and partner input.

The AdvoCaring program allowed students to progress from the application level to the creating level within the revised Bloom's Taxonomy. (13) Students applied what they learned in the first and second years, analyzed their impact in relation to agency needs, evaluated their work, and created and planned initiatives for a capstone project. …

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