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Curriculum update

Friday, 4 August 2017 2:18pm

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The central vision of the curriculum in the revised bachelor of pharmacy programme is to “help students becomes medication therapy experts who provide patient-centred care,” says Dr Megan Anakin.

Today, many of the services pharmacists provide require them to work at the top of their scope. These services move them away from the traditional manufacturing and dispensing roles of the apothecary towards more clinical roles where they interact with patients as medications experts. In the 21st century, pharmacists are spending more time working with doctors to prescribe medicines and interacting with patients, to reconcile their medicines use.


The central vision of the curriculum in the revised bachelor of pharmacy programme is to “help students becomes medication therapy experts who provide patient-centred care,” says Dr Megan Anakin. She has been working with staff at the School so that “Every time we look at a piece of the curriculum, we ask ourselves the question. ‘Does this fit with our vision?’ If the answer is no, then it has to go.”


“It’s about letting things go,” says Dr Anakin. “The idea that one person controls the flow of knowledge and is responsible for transmitting it directly to a student is outdated.”


Impetus for the changes at the School come from a new paradigm in learning, called connectivism. Connectivism is an extension of constructivism. With constructivism, learners are expected to be actively constructing knowledge from their experiences in the world around them. This process can be enhanced when teachers structure a learner’s environment with visual aids, age-appropriate texts, and verbal feedback. With connectivism, the principles of constructivism still apply; however, knowledge is no longer mediated through limited access to resources. Connectivism acknowledges that we are living in a digital age that provides us with ubiquitous access to knowledge. Knowledge is plentiful and it is now a teachers’ job to help students learn how to navigate and shape the way they are learning.


The revised curriculum is spiral, which means that students revisit, and build upon their knowledge and skills across the three years of the degree programme. The School has also designed the curriculum so it is more responsive to student’s needs and changing services provided by the profession. Ultimately, the revised curriculum is centred on thinking about the learning of our students first.

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“We cannot teach students everything. It is not possible. Knowledge is not stable; it is contestable,” says Dr Anakin, “For example, we can familiarise students with the main classes of drugs that are popular today, however, we know that tomorrow there will be new drugs to learn about. We need to equip our students to start their careers as expert learners.”


To help us think about this revised curriculum, Professor Stephen Duffull, Dr Daniel Wright, our Dean Professor Carlo Marra and Dr Megan Anakin have published ‘A philosophical framework for pharmacy in the 21st Century guided by ethical principles’ as an open access article in the journal, Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. The goal of this publication is to stimulate debate and discussion about the scope and practice of the profession and to think about the framework’s implications for pharmacy education. As Professor Duffull stated in a recent interview, “It is time for the introduction of new “do good” models of clinical decision-making skills that provide pharmacists with the tools to integrate reasoning processes with their knowledge-base and experience to best meet the needs of an individual patient.” (PharmacyToday, 3 July 2017).