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New Pharmacy Curriculum Implemented

Oct 9, 2019

Pharmacy faculty have enthusiastically implemented the new Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum with the incoming class in the 2019 fall semester.  The new curriculum is an exciting new era in pharmacy education for the School that builds upon the strengths of the prior curriculum and includes changes needed to reflect changes in pharmacy practice, pharmacy education, accreditation standards, and the health care environment. This new curriculum is based on the 2018 revision in the program learning outcomes and is a continuation of the evolution of prior curricula in some areas, but a major step forward in other areas. The new curriculum also increases the use of evidence-based methods in the design and delivery of the curriculum and courses.

The new Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum and courses were designed to enhance student learning, increase integration and collaboration among faculty, remove redundancy, and provide room for enhancement of skills, case-based learning and emphasize additional topics. Courses are designed to enable development of the pharmacists' patient care process and interprofessional collaboration across the curriculum.  Major revisions include integration of a series of multi-disciplinary integrated courses and more extensive and continuous development of pharmacy practice skills throughout the curriculum.  Instead of training students in physiology and pathophysiology, pharmacology and medicinal chemistry, and therapeutics as separate courses, the new curriculum reorganizes these topics into a series of integrated clinical science courses that are focused on specific organ systems and diseases (i.e., cardiovascular, endocrine, neuropsychiatric, gastrointestinal, infectious diseases, immunologic, oncologic) or special populations (pediatrics and geriatrics). Practice skills courses have increased from 4 courses in the prior curriculum to 11 courses in the new curriculum. This includes increasing the case-based learning courses from 2 to 4 courses, which are designed to enhance critical thinking skills with cases increasing in complexity from one semester to the next. Specific courses in pediatrics, geriatrics, critical care and emergency medicine have been added to provide an increased emphasis on those important topics. The experiential components of the curriculum had already evolved to meet accreditation and practice standards over the past 5 years and will be retained at this point.

Course delivery and assessment in the new curriculum includes an increased emphasis on active learning and assessment strategies in all courses. The strategies used will include team-based learning, flipped classroom, use of objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and numerous other methods described in Hitting Pause by G.T. Rice (2018), Classroom Assessment Techniques by T.A. Angelo and K.P. Cross, and other resources. Workshops led by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), presentations from faculty in School-based sessions, and individual consultations from CTL staff and other faculty have provided guidance and direction for faculty development in the use of these strategies.

The implementation of the new curriculum coincided with the formalization the School's long history of extensive co-curricular activities. The co-curriculum is designed to assure that all students participate and further develop their abilities outside of the curriculum through participation, reflection and assessment of health care outreach activities, professional organization events and activities, and individual professional development activities and accomplishments.

However, the pharmacy faculty are not done. Assessments and evaluations will be used to evaluate and make needed changes to the new curriculum and its courses. Additionally, the faculty will soon be determining how best to implement entrustable professional activities into the curriculum. The Doctor of Pharmacy program has a strong history. The new curriculum and co-curriculum are expected to further strengthen the program and its graduates - in addition to providing a strong framework for future advances.

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