Longitudinal Evaluation of the Healthy Living Assessment as an Experiential Learning Activity Provided On-Campus

By Langran, Catherine; Alexander, Angela et al. | American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, March 2020 | Go to article overview

Longitudinal Evaluation of the Healthy Living Assessment as an Experiential Learning Activity Provided On-Campus


Langran, Catherine, Alexander, Angela, Donyai, Parastou, American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education


INTRODUCTION

In the United Kingdom, there are 31 accredited schools of pharmacy delivering a four-year Master of Pharmacy Degree (MPharm) program. (1) After graduation, students complete one year of pre-registration training, usually in a community or hospital pharmacy. Pre-registration trainees must demonstrate their competence in terms of performance standards and pass a national end-of-year examination in order to register as a pharmacist with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC also regulates the MPharm undergraduate curriculum and stipulates that it must include placements that provide students with experience working with patients. (2) Placements deliver experiential learning which facilitates the development of student clinical skills and professional attitudes and behaviors. (3-5)

A 2018 survey of experiential learning in MPharm programs in the United Kingdom found that the total placement time at each university varies considerably, ranging from nine to 146 hours of community pharmacy placements and 14 to 103 hours of hospital pharmacy placements. (6) Organizing placements for students can be challenging because of increasing class sizes, issues with obtaining and retaining placement providers, and lack of financial support, quality assurance measures, and/or administrative support. (6) In the United States, introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) programs have also experienced challenges such as competition for sites, difficulty conducting site visits, understaffing, and issues surrounding program assessment. (7,8) Similar challenges with arranging placements for a large cohort of students (approximately 500 students) were experienced at Reading School of Pharmacy, leading to the introduction of an innovative approach involving on-campus placements.

In 2011, funding was received from the University of Reading Alumni fund to establish a pilot program for undergraduate pharmacy students to conduct Healthy Living Assessments (HLAs). The HLAs were designed to give pharmacy students the opportunity to conduct diagnostic tests on volunteer participants to assess their cardiovascular risk and provide them with advice on healthy living. Delivering HLAs on campus was deemed feasible as it ensured no scheduling clashes, utilized the untapped resource of 19,000 university students and staff members to volunteer as participants, minimized costs, and could be fully quality assured. The aim of this study was to determine the perceived value of the HLAs to pharmacy students' learning and to the volunteer participants.

METHODS

The HLA was based on Health Check, a program of the UK National Health Service that includes measurement of blood pressure, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, and waist circumference; calculation of body mass index (BMI); assessment of alcohol use; assessment of wellbeing; questions about diet and smoking, and calculation of the participants' risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. (9-12) Any member of the university staff or enrolled student over 18 years of age could undergo an HLA free of charge. The HLAs were advertised via emails to university staff members and students, on the student radio station, in the student newspaper, and on posters displayed around campus.

In September 2011, 48 third- and fourth-year undergraduate pharmacy students volunteered to participate in the HLA pilot program. Students attended two training sessions that lasted two hours each, completed a one-hour online assessment (had to receive a passing grade of 70%), and conducted a mock HLA on staff members who provided formative feedback (two hours). Students who passed the training were deemed competent to undertake HLAs on volunteer participants. Students who did not achieve 70% in the online assessment attended an additional two-hour training session taught by the lead academic for the HLA program and then were retested.

The HLA pilot program was undertaken on 16 Wednesday afternoons from October 2011 to March 2012. …

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