Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Comparison of Approaches to Student Pharmacist Business Planning in Pharmacy Practice Management

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Comparison of Approaches to Student Pharmacist Business Planning in Pharmacy Practice Management

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Experiential education has been a staple of pharmacy education as a vital element of the learning process for student pharmacists. Provided by Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE), direct exposure assists degree candidates in transitioning toward pharmacy practice, providing a bridge between didactic instruction and real-world applications. As may be expected and required, much, if not all, of the focus for these experiences is the development of clinical skills; however, abilities beyond those mastered in therapeutics and similar course-work are needed to become a successful practitioner. In recognition of this and as dictated by accrediting bodies, colleges of pharmacy require graduates to complete coursework focused on practice management, training which crosses multiple domains outlined by the most recent Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) outcomes and reinforced by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). (1,2) Specifically, curricular content is expected to include material that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship (CAPE 4.3) as well as problem-solving (CAPE 3.1) where learning objectives stress initiative, creative decision making, and a step-wise approach to identifying, considering, and implementing solutions, among others. (1) To address these expectations, content of practice management courses commonly include operations management, human resources, finance, quality improvement, and other universal topics critical to pharmacy practice. Additionally, themes central to effective management are often included, such as leadership, team building, conflict resolution, and negotiation techniques.

As has been pointed out, what may challenge effective student learning--unlike more clinically focused courses--is the lack of context for immediate, practical application of the information offered. (3) While exposure to material in the pharmacy management classroom may form the basis for foundational knowledge in business, economics, or management, significant learning cannot take place without integration of other approaches that may lead to improved learning. (4) Consequently, skills deemed critically important by accrediting bodies may not be as fully absorbed as those which were applied in real-world scenarios during APPE rotations (ie, leveraging higher-level concepts outlined by Bloom's taxonomy). (5) Although some APPE placements may provide more in-depth exposure to the business and managerial aspects of pharmacy practice, this is not a universal requirement for all students nor may it be operationally feasible for all schools.

Entrepreneurial educators have recognized a similar issue in their field, suggesting the increased need for inserting students into actual environments rather than relying on existing information to provide instruction on entrepreneurship within the confines of the classroom. (6,7) While innovation may play a more central role in entrepreneurship education, it would be a missed opportunity to not leverage what has been observed by colleges of business in adequately responding to calls for improved focus on developing entrepreneurial skills. (6,7) To do so, pharmacy instructors may need to leverage innovative approaches to assist students in fully absorbing managerial material crucial to their success as future practitioners. This includes considering the content and techniques used by non-medical disciplines as they may provide valuable guidance. For example, business schools across the United States have regularly used consulting projects as an active learning mechanism to connect in-class material with real-world experience, the process for which having been fully outlined for schools to model. (8) This field-based exercise places students with firms in the area and requires them to perform team-based problem solving in an active business environment. …

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