An Elective Course on Landmark Trials to Improve Pharmacy Students' Literature Evaluation and Therapeutic Application Skills

By Burkiewicz, Jill S.; Komperda, Kathy E. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, April 2009 | Go to article overview

An Elective Course on Landmark Trials to Improve Pharmacy Students' Literature Evaluation and Therapeutic Application Skills


Burkiewicz, Jill S., Komperda, Kathy E., American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

Evidence-based medicine is the use of the best current evidence from research to make decisions in practice and policy. (1) The ability to apply new research findings to practice and patient care are important skills for future clinicians. (2) Skills related to drug literature evaluation and necessary to the practice of evidence-based pharmacy are required components of the doctor of pharmacy curriculum.

According to both the American Council for Pharmaceutical Education (ACPE) accreditation standards and the Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) outcomes statements, pharmacy students should be exposed to practical applications of primary literature in both the classroom and practice. (3,4) Curriculum committees are asked to consider inclusion of foundational content in order to develop students' ability to evaluate clinical trials of pharmacotherapeutic treatments, as well as their ability to apply these skills in the clinical setting. (3) Further, current accreditation standards focus on the development of skills in critical thinking and lifelong learning. As the field of pharmacy is continuously changing, these skills contribute to the development of professionals who can stay current and competent in the field over time. While students are expected to achieve these outcomes during the core curriculum, elective courses reinforce key concepts and allow students to explore their individual interests.

One area in which further reinforcement is needed later in the curriculum is applying literature to therapeutic recommendations. In the core curriculum, students are trained in drug literature evaluation and taught the importance of using the primary literature to support therapeutic recommendations; however, students have limited opportunities to increase proficiency in such skills in the core curriculum. Thus, an elective course entitled Landmark Trials in Primary Care was established at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy. This elective was designed to offer students the opportunity to discuss landmark trials in primary care and reinforce skills in applying evidence from primary literature to support therapeutic recommendations.

Pharmacy students' attitudes toward evidence-based medicine and comfort with literature evaluation are largely unexplored. A survey of randomly selected pharmacists in Illinois determined that pharmacists have positive attitudes toward evidence-based medicine. (5) Though most pharmacists had performed literature searches within the previous year, there was a low level of awareness that these databases were accessible for free to the public. Since training in drug literature evaluation is now computer-based, pharmacy students may be more aware of databases to search the literature than practicing pharmacists who graduated 10 or more years ago.

One study of medical students exposed to an evidence-based medicine curriculum found that it positively changed student attitudes toward evidence-based medicine and self-assessment of related skills. (6) Therefore, this study sought to determine: (1) the attitudes of pharmacy students enrolled in a Landmark Trials elective course; (2) the impact of the elective on students' comfort with technical concepts used in drug literature; and (3) students' perceptions of the accessibility of PubMed from home computers.

DESIGN

Landmark Trials Course

In 2004, an elective course in Landmark Trials in Primary Care was established. The 2-credit-hour elective course was open to third-year students seeking to fulfill a curricular requirement for 16 quarter hours of elective coursework. As a prerequisite, all students had successfully completed required coursework in drug information, research methods, and drug literature evaluation. In addition, students were required to have successfully completed the portions of the pharmacotherapeutics sequence that covered the disease-state topics encountered within the elective. …

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