Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Teaching about the Health Care Industry through Gamification

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Teaching about the Health Care Industry through Gamification

Article excerpt


In preparing pharmacy students to be health care professionals, the focus of training has long been on specific therapeutic techniques and the science behind the application of medications. While this reinforces the skills necessary to complete the basic tasks of a pharmacist, it ignores other important aspects of pharmacy as a practice. For this reason, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education included non-therapeutic outcomes in the updated education standards. These outcomes mandate pharmacy schools to train students in leadership, management, and entrepreneurship, (1) and can be related to the business side of the pharmaceutical industry. In this context, a method was developed to educate students about the current state of the pharmaceutical industry and the business of health care. This method was a fantasy investment league focused on health care investment.

The Biotechnology Investment Fantasy League was created with thorough consideration of the following principles: standard pharmacy education places a small emphasis on critical stakeholders in the health care industry whose needs must be addressed in the implementation of new therapies and practices; and that the information used by financial investors is used to address all players (stakeholders, customers, buyers, and end users) within an industry. When this understanding is translated to investments in health care, investment resources can be used to gain an understanding of the all aspects of the health care industry.

The game-based delivery method was chosen because it overcomes the most important barrier in the implementation of a novel education topic, which is the lack of engagement. As described by Self-Directed Learning theory, adults are more engaged with learning if they can actively participate as an equal in an informal setting with a focus on problem solving. (2) Grounding the learning in a competitive activity like a mock investment game organized by peers should allow greater engagement.

This fantasy investment league was created and administered by two students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and consisted of peers competing with each other in an informal environment outside the standard schedule of classes.


All students and faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy were eligible to participate in the investment league. To participate in the competition, members created accounts on "Investopedia," a platform where individuals can trade stocks that mirror the current market while possessing no monetary value. Each student was granted $50,000 to invest in this mock stock exchange. Investments were only allowed to be placed on health care companies, defined as a company where the majority income was generated through health care-oriented products or services. Successful enrollment was followed by a compulsory investment of at least half of the individual's assets before a designated date, which ensured that the individual's capital was actively influenced by the market. Students could buy, trade, or hold stocks in the companies of their choosing within the aforementioned health care company restriction. The competition was supplemented by weekly information sessions where the coordinating students would cover topics relevant to investing and the health care market in general. Topics discussed during the weekly meetings included: basics of the stock market, weekly industry updates, and how to evaluate a health care company. Educational resources were provided to all participating students. The winner of the competition was determined by the overall account value at the end of the designated term. Cash incentives were provided to the top 3 students. The prizes were $250, $100 and $50 for first, second, and third places, respectively.

Surveys were administered at the start and end of the investment game to evaluate the students' knowledge and comfort with the financial investments and the health care market on a scale from one to five. …

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