Implementation of an Active-Learning Laboratory on Pharmacogenetics

By Powers, Kacie E.; Buffington, Tonya M. et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, April 2019 | Go to article overview

Implementation of an Active-Learning Laboratory on Pharmacogenetics


Powers, Kacie E., Buffington, Tonya M., Contaifer, Daniel, Jr., Wijesinghe, Dayanjan S., Donohoe, Krista L., American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists have learned a lot about how genetics affects medication responses. Thus, pharmacogenetics is an important topic to include in the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curricula. The 2001-2002 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Academic Affairs Committee included recommendations on teaching pharmacogenetics in colleges of pharmacy to ensure students were adequately prepared with the necessary skills for future practice. (1) The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) standards and guidelines and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists also encourage including pharmacogenetics in pharmacy school curricula. Likewise, the American College of Clinical Pharmacists includes pharmacogenetics as one of the competencies for clinical pharmacists. (2-4)

As advances continue to be made, the future of pharmacogenetics has been getting national attention. The Precision Medicine Initiative, introduced by the Obama administration 2015, addresses the need for individualized patient care. (5) Likewise, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now includes pharmacogenetics information in the labeling of many medications. (6) Therefore, it is imperative for pharmacists to be able to assess patients and apply pharmacogenetics information in their clinical practice. Survey data show that the majority of pharmacists agree on the importance of pharmacogenetics; however, few feel confident in their ability to apply it. (7) This uncertainty among pharmacists raises the question of how pharmacogenetics education and training occur across pharmacy schools in the United States.

Despite widespread agreement on the importance of pharmacogenetics in the field of pharmacy, studies have found inconsistencies in how and to what extent pharmacogenetics is taught in pharmacy school curricula. (8,9) While a 2010 survey found that most colleges of pharmacy in the United States included pharmacogenetics content in their curriculum; several important topics were not covered at all by many colleges. (9) Furthermore, the relatively small number of practicing pharmacogeneticists in the United States is a severe limitation to providing the education. A search of the pharmacy education literature found only one paper describing the successful implementation of an elective course to provide pharmacy students with the basic knowledge necessary to make clinical decisions regarding pharmacogenomic data. (10) Ongoing education in pharmacogenetics for all health care professionals is also will be important as this field continues to evolve. (11)

At Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy, pharmacogenetics is taught as a required course in the third professional year. An active-learning laboratory was developed to support the course. Few application-based laboratory sessions on applying clinical pharmacogenetics material have been discussed in the pharmacy education literature. (12,13) Knoell and colleagues reported a laboratory assignment in which students conducted genotype analysis on 10 randomly selected DNA samples and then completed a patient counseling activity. (12) Krynetskiy and Calligaro describe a laboratory activity where students' saliva samples were collected, genotyping analysis was performed, and the clinical significance of the findings was discussed. (13) These studies indicate that a pharmacogenetics laboratory activity enhanced students' learning of pharmacogenetic principles. However, none of these studies directly assessed changes in student knowledge and confidence with regards to clinical pharmacogenetics.

Unlike these two genotyping analysis activities, we conducted an active-learning laboratory session focused on clinical case-based pharmacogenetics. The session included cases that mimicked the real patient cases that a clinical pharmacogenetics specialist sees in practice and included a patient counseling component. …

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