Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Identifying Shared Values for School-Affiliated Student Organizations

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Identifying Shared Values for School-Affiliated Student Organizations

Article excerpt


Student organizations play an important role in doctor of pharmacy degree programs. For students, involvement in student organizations can promote the development of key professional and social skills, provide opportunities for relationship and network building, and create immersion opportunities in pharmacy and health care through activities such as service learning, volunteerism, clinical competitions, patient care projects, and seminars. (1-3) Specifically, research suggests that engagement in student organizations can improve altruism, accountability, honor/integrity, organizational skills, and relationship skills in student pharmacists. (1,2) Student organization involvement also remains an important aspect of a postgraduate application. (4)

At the institutional level, student organizations can also provide a number of important benefits, including, but not limited to, fostering alumni engagement, creating strategic relationships with professional organizations, and complementing student skill development provided in the curriculum. Since student engagement in educationally purposeful activities is a critical aspect of student success, (5) institutions have a vested interest in providing students with opportunities to engage in meaningful educational activities within and beyond the academic curriculum. In pharmacy education, there are a wide range of student organizations that represent a diversity of purposes, interests, specialties, skills, and activities. (3) Student, faculty, and alumni involvement in organizations that align with institution or divisional goals can further promote success through retention, agency, and branding. (6-9)

There is little guidance or research concerning how to best position student organizations for success in the midst of rapidly evolving education and health care systems. As schools and colleges of pharmacy work to prepare aspiring pharmacists for the ongoing challenges of health care, (10-12) it is timely to consider how student organizations might work with the institution and one another to foster student growth and development. As noted in prior research, for example, institutions should identify strategies that promote unity within the entire student body while also meeting the unique and diverse needs of the community. (3,13) Understanding the shared goals of student organizations can help position an institution and its organizations to better support and draw upon institutional stakeholders to optimize outcomes.

Achieving our institutional goals will require strategic and intentional efforts to support student organizations. At the University of North Carolina (UNC) Eshelman School of Pharmacy, the school's transformed curriculum was implemented in fall 2015 with the goal of developing exemplary pharmacy practitioners, leaders and innovators, and lifelong learners. While the transformed curriculum specifically addresses academic experiences associated with re-engineered classroom experiences, increased opportunities for problem-solving and innovation, and enhanced early immersion into the patient care experience, (10,14) it also gives consideration to the role of the co-curriculum in promoting student development of core skills and competencies.

The purpose of this study was to identify shared values for student organizations at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in an effort to inform ongoing curriculum design. This study was a first step toward creating a unified vision for the student organizations and fostering their capacity to prosper amid the school's curriculum transformation. It is also timely for all schools given the 2016 Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accreditation requirements emphasizing personal and professional development (Standard 4), affective domain elements (Standard 12.3), and assessment (Standard 25). (15)


The Delphi technique has been used extensively to reach consensus in pharmacy education. …

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