Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Integration of Basic and Clinical Science Courses in US PharmD Programs

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Integration of Basic and Clinical Science Courses in US PharmD Programs

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

There is an increasing recognition among medical and other health science educators that traditional disciplinary education does not conform to the current demands of interdisciplinary learning and practice. (1,2) The isolated disciplinary model of education lacks connectedness among different learning experiences. (3) For these reasons, curricular integration has emerged as an important strategy in healthcare education. (2,4-6) Notably, the integration of basic sciences with clinical sciences has been a focal point in medical education reform. A 2010 medical education study of 148 medical schools in the United States and Canada found that 82% of the 128 reporting schools had adopted curricular integration or were in the process of adopting integration as a central characteristic of their curricula. (5) North American dental schools also have begun to integrate basic and clinical sciences. (6) A 2009 survey of US and Canadian dental schools reported that 49% of the reporting schools had adopted interdisciplinary courses in their curricula. (6) Similar to medicine and dentistry, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) Standards 2016 also support a trend towards curricular integration in professional pharmacy programs. (7) ACPE standards expect that graduates develop, integrate, and apply foundational science knowledge to solve clinical problems. (7)

The literature includes an increasing number of reports on integration at the levels of topics, modules, courses, and entire curriculum in pharmacy programs. (8-14) Stewart and colleagues reported that integration of specific pharmaceutics and pharmacy practice course concepts improved students' learning and application of concepts. (9) Kullgreen and colleagues described an integrated course focusing on pain and palliative care; this course was developed by linking concepts of pathophysiology, pharmacology, medicinal chemistry, formulations and drug delivery, and pain management. (10) Moreover, Kolluru and colleagues discussed the integration of basic and clinical sciences in a multi-instructor, team-based active-learning exercise in a depression module of a pharmacotherapy course. (11) The integration of didactic and experiential education has also been described through Learning Bridge assignments by Karimi and colleagues. (12) These assignments were designed and implemented by a team of faculty members from basic, clinical, and social administrative sciences where pharmaceutical sciences concepts were applied in the introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs). This approach was reported to promote students' interaction with their preceptors as well as their development of active-learning and self-directed learning skills. (12) In addition to these examples, pharmacy programs with full integration of biomedical, pharmaceutical, social/ behavioral/administrative, and clinical sciences are also being developed. (14)

The benefits of curricular integration have been presented in the literature. In an integrated approach, students learn faster and more comprehensively, as they observe the relevance and connections among diverse concepts or subject areas. (15,16) Furthermore, integration helps learners develop problem-solving skills and apply learned experiences in real-life situations. (17,18) While the impetus for curricular integration is evident, the implementation of integration remains a significant challenge. (19,20) Isolated reports of integration at the course level or across segments of the curriculum have been described; however, the level and extent of curricular integration across colleges/school of pharmacy remain unclear. The purpose of this study is to determine the current status of basic and clinical science integration in US colleges and schools of pharmacy. Both qualitative and quantitative data on course integration as well as faculty perception of the design, implementation, and challenges of integrated courses are presented. …

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