New UI Pharm.D. curriculum emphasizes team learning over lectures
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The University of Iowa College of Pharmacy on Wednesday launched a new curriculum that prepares students for today's healthcare arena, building skills to be effective decision makers, team players and communicators. The idea is to prepare students to provide care that is multi-disciplinary, patient-centered and team-based, the College reported.
The new Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum — dubbed the Learning and Living Curriculum — began this fall with first-year Pharm.D. students and will roll out over the next three academic years.
Mike Kelly, associate dean for professional education at the UI’s College of Pharmacy, says the new curriculum is more about a “change of delivery” than a transformation of content. More courses are team-taught, and students work in groups more often than they do individually.
“We created a curriculum with a student-centered approach to teaching,” Kelly said. “There is also a greater emphasis on professionalism and discovery through research. … There’s less sage-on-the-stage and more faculty working alongside students, facilitating the learning.”
Unique elements of the Learning and Living Curriculum include:
Professional Engagement: A two-week, one-credit course for first-year Pharm.D. students that begins one week before the fall semester. Sessions include an orientation, professional and self-development classes, patient-screening training, a day of service and mentoring and networking events;
Aligned Component Course series: Classes will now be organized by disease state and will be team-taught. Having stand-alone courses, such as Pathology (disease causes and their behaviors) and Pharmacology (the uses, effects, and modes of actions of drugs) with one instructor, a particular disease state will be used as the theme to tie former stand-alone subjects together;
Active learning strategies: Students will be given pre-class assignments that teach them concepts, while in class, they delve more deeply into the material, often in small groups. Students will apply, analyze and evaluate the material with the help of the teacher and their peers;
Inter-professional education: Pharmacy students will collaborate with fellow health sciences students to learn about other professions and high-functioning health-care teams; and
Greater ability to specialize — The new program will allow more flexibility for students seeking dual degrees and additional specializations.
Donald Letendre, dean of the UI College of Pharmacy, believes health care professionals are inherently lifelong students; so, it’s important that any pharmacy curriculum is conducive to change.“Our avant-garde curriculum is forward-thinking, student-centric and fully adaptable to addressing students’ interests and needs,” he said.
Another key feature of the new curriculum is called “Professional Discovery,” which includes team-based, long-term research projects that help students develop their collaborative, leadership and research skills.
“Fewer than 25 percent of pharmacy schools include a Professional Discovery component in their curriculum, but there is clear evidence that it improves student success,” noted Professor Emerita Hazel Seaba.