Maintaining the Quality of Education during Difficult Times

By Maine, Lucinda | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Maintaining the Quality of Education during Difficult Times


Maine, Lucinda, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


Few would argue that it is important to consider what we need to do, individually and collectively, to insure the quality of our educational programs are maintained during this time of economic stress at state, national, and global levels. Imagine my surprise when a colleague handed me a manuscript entitled "Maintaining the Quality of Education During Difficult Times" (1) found during a recent extensive office cleaning project. It was the report of the 1982 Argus Commission authored by highly esteemed past presidents Jere Goyan, Bill Kinnard, Tom Miya, Varro Tyler, and Hal Wolf. This was the immediate post-capitation time in health professions education coupled with a very weak US economy.

Deja vu all over again! I could not wait to read their analysis of the threats to quality and recommendations for actions the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and its members could take in the difficult economic times of 30 years ago. Undoubtedly, there would be pearls to apply to our current situation ...or has the context changed so significantly that their insights would not be applicable today?

Here are the issues AACP leaders highlighted as areas of vulnerability requiring the attention of the academy during times of economic stress: (1) establishing strong school leadership, (2) changing the composition of the faculty, maintaining a strong commitment to scholarship, and recruiting pharmacy students into graduate education, (3) rewarding faculty contributions with early career support and renewal opportunities, (4) protecting the quality of students through recruitment efforts and better admissions practices, (5) building leadership skills in students, (6) working with the profession to ensure adequate capacity for experiential education, (7) strengthening extramural relations with industry, foundations, the accrediting body, and pharmacy associations, and (8) fortifying our intramural relations with other health professions disciplines.

Historians are smiling at the relevance of this list of issues for our current times. As I reflect on the priorities of the Association over the last several years, I can point to a number of programs, reports and resources aimed at fortifying each of these key areas. We provide leader ship development programs for current and future academic leaders. Despite the economic stress at member schools, we received the highest number of Academic Leadership Fellows application in the program's 7-year history.

We have examined several different strategies to increase the ability of faculty to conduct research and attract current students into graduate education with the work of our educating clinical scientists taskforces and the analysis of dual-degree programs by the Research and Graduate Affairs Committee. …

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