Teaching Research Skills to Student Pharmacists in One Semester: An Applied Research Elective

By Perez, Alexandra; Rabionet, Silvia et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, February 2017 | Go to article overview

Teaching Research Skills to Student Pharmacists in One Semester: An Applied Research Elective


Perez, Alexandra, Rabionet, Silvia, Bleidt, Barry, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


Objectives. To implement and assess the effectiveness of a 15-week applied research elective that introduced students to secondary database analysis in clinical pharmacy.

Design. In small groups, students learned, planned, developed and completed a secondary database study to answer an original research question. During one semester, they completed a basic research proposal and Institutional Review Board application, created and analyzed a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) sample dataset, and reported the results in an abstract and poster presentation.

Assessment. All deliverables resulted in high grades. Mean scores on a survey conducted following completion of the course revealed that students strongly agreed or agreed that they had high levels of confidence about performing research-related tasks. Eight student groups delivered poster presentations at professional conferences.

Conclusions. Within one semester, student pharmacists with no or little research experience completed original research projects that contributed to pharmacy practice knowledge. They felt highly confident doing research-related tasks, and successfully disseminated their studies beyond the classroom.

Keywords: student research training

INTRODUCTION

Research skills enhance pharmacists' professional vitality and deal with changes in science and practice. (1) The scholarly and practice communities in the biomedical fields are increasingly aware of the key role that pharmacists can play in discovery, assessing the complexities of medication use and misuse, health outcomes evaluation, evidence-based practice, and policy. (2,3) While translational research progressively shows its significance in transforming health outcomes, clinical pharmacists can claim an important role in research aimed at enhancing the adoption of best practices in the community, including in the cost-effectiveness of prevention and treatment strategies. (2,3) Various pathways have been defined for preparing clinical pharmacists (those with a doctor of pharmacy [PharmD] degree) to enter the competitive realm of funded research and to actively participate in translational and health outcomes research. These pathways include post-PharmD education in the form of fellowships, residencies, and advanced degrees atthe masters and doctoral level.3,4 In order to increase the number of pharmacy graduates pursuing these pathways, it is important that we explore ways of enhancing research experiences in the PharmD curriculum.

Independently of the interest in a research-intensive career, graduates of pharmacy programs that offer enhanced research experiences can more successfully approach the changing nature and complex demands of the health care system. Enhanced research skills could also be instrumental in evaluating the introduction of new medical technologies and products. Professional organizations, accrediting bodies, and think tanks have highlighted the benefit of research experiences for students. (4-6) For example, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy's 2011-2012 Argus Commission noted that "student research skills help develop inquisitive pharmacists with attributes required for scholarly clinical practice." (7,8) The 2016 Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) accreditation standards and the Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) 2013 statement of educational outcomes acknowledge and encourage the inclusion of research-related knowledge and skill-building activities within the curriculum. (9,10) The support for research competencies has also been recognized by international organizations. (7) Considering these forces, applied research training is not yet standardized in PharmD training programs in the United States. (1,11)

While pursuing their PharmD degree, students should be encouraged to take advantage of the rich research environment offered by their program. …

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