Impact of Previous Pharmacy Work Experience on Pharmacy School Academic Performance

By Mar, Ellena; Barnett, Mitchell J. et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, April 2010 | Go to article overview

Impact of Previous Pharmacy Work Experience on Pharmacy School Academic Performance


Mar, Ellena, Barnett, Mitchell J., Tang, Terrill T. -L., Sasaki-Hill, Debra, Kuperberg, James R., Knapp, Katherine, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

In spite of the increase in the number of colleges and schools of pharmacy during the last decade, the number of admission applications to doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) programs still exceeds the number of slots available. In fact, there was a 7% increase in the number of applicants in 2007-2008, preceded by a 3.5% increase in 20062007. (1) With multiple qualified candidates vying for each position within a class, colleges of pharmacy are faced with many challenges in evaluating applicants for admission. The profession of pharmacy has shifted from a science-based mode of practice to a clinically based patient-centered practice; thus, colleges of pharmacy are faced with the added burden of identifying student characteristics that predict clinical success as well as academic success. As the responsibilities of pharmacy practice expand from filling prescriptions to providing pharmaceutical care, colleges and schools have a responsibility to identify preadmission factors associated with applicants' ability to provide patient-care services in a multidisciplinary setting. A clear understanding of these factors will ensure that students with the greatest potential to maximize patient outcomes and provide optimal quality of care will be matriculated.

Academic performance or success has been defined as early classroom grade point average (GPA for first 3 years). (2-8) Clinical success generally has been measured by experiential performance, namely grades in introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs) or advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs). Other measures of pharmacy student clinical performance have included low-stakes progress examinations, high-stakes progress examinations, and case-based objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs). These measures tend to be more qualitative or subjective than classroom grades and generally have been less accurate in predicting students' clinical success after graduation. (9-12) A detailed description of the various progress examinations in use has recently been presented. (13)

Little has been done to identify factors that can predict clinical performance accurately, or to predict clinical success in a multidisciplinary patient-care setting. At Touro University-California College of Pharmacy (TUCOP), a cumulative high-stakes examination called the Triple Jump Examination (TJE), given at the end of each of the 4 didactic semesters, is being used to determine the progression of students into clinical APPEs. (14) TU-COP is unique in its use of a 2 1 2 medical school-type curriculum format (ie, 2 years of classroom training followed by 2 years of experiential training). The correlation between TJE scores and grades in APPEs has been moderately high (r = 0.59), suggesting that the TJE may be a valid tool to predict success in clinical APPEs. (14) However, there is still a significant need to look at both quantitative and qualitative measures of applicants' abilities during the admissions process as such measures may be useful in predicting success in a program. (2) Nontraditional factors such as emotional intelligence, motivation, empathy, and leadership can be evaluated with questionnaires and interviews, but are rarely used. (15) Other factors that can predict academic success in a PharmD curriculum and clinical success during clerkships have not been determined.

Previous pharmacy work experience likely plays a role in the admission decision process as the assumption is that applicants with prior exposure to the workplace have a more complete understanding of the role of pharmacists in a practice setting. (16) The actual impact that previous exposure to the pharmacy workplace has on the clinical success of the student pharmacist is unclear. We hypothesized that experience obtained in the pharmacy workplace prior to matriculation into pharmacy school may have resulted in the accumulation of skills that could be useful during the students' pharmacy school education. …

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