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New curriculum aims to produce work-savvy pharmacists

Monday, 1 May 2017 9:29am

A new Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) degree curriculum is set to be rolled out at the Otago School of Pharmacy with a focus on integrated learning with an innovative “capstone” final year programme.
Development of the new curriculum is well underway with a planned rollout of the new second year (P2) programme next year, associate dean academic, Natalie Medlicott says.

“It’s an exciting time for the school as we look to educate and prepare pharmacists for the changing face of pharmacy, with an expanded scope of practice and opportunities for pharmacists to excel as medicines experts.”

A curriculum working party has been busily working in conjunction with academic staff and an external advisory board to update the curriculum, as it has been more than 10 years since the current curriculum has been reviewed in its entirety (Pharmacy Today, 1 September 2015).

One of the key features of the new curriculum is early adoption of integrated learning so that fundamental pharmacy knowledge and skills are learned at the same time as students are introduced to patient care, associate professor Medlicott says.

Students will create practice e-portfolios where they can reflect on their learning in class and while on work-based placements in the community.

Another innovation is the introduction of a “capstone” fourth year programme. This capstone year aims to increase graduates’ readiness for the intern training programme the following year, she says.
“We are introducing more practical skills like communicating and working with patients in the final year so our graduates are practice-ready for their intern year.”

The new curriculum is based on several key principles, termed “foundational entrustable professional activities”, which associate professor Medlicott says are skills the school expects students to be able to do once they graduate.

The eight foundational entrustable professional activities -“EPAs”, are: fulfil professional obligations, communicates effectively, takes a patient history, conducts a clinical assessment, care planning, clinical validation of a prescription, provides medicines information and documents activities.

The academic dean says the working party has been guided throughout the process by four key philosophies established at the beginning of the process to ensure the new curriculum is:
• Patient-centred (“remembering why we are here”)
• Student-focused and student-led (“educational models that are focused on student outcomes and led by students”)
• Collaborative care (“working in healthcare teams”)
• Has an Otago “flavour”.

To complement the curriculum development, the school last year initiated regular teaching innovation sessions for staff. These sessions are opportunities to discuss new developments in learning that can be adopted to enhance current teaching and to be used in the new curriculum.

Article written by Liane Topham-Kindley, for Pharmacy Today, May 2017