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UW Faculty Are Leaders in Experiential Education

On June 17, representatives from all areas of pharmacy practice, regulation, professional organizations and education met in Chicago, Illinois, for a two-day summit with the goal of creating an action plan and implementation strategy for advancing experiential education within the pharmacy profession. This invitational summit was part of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Academic Practice Partnership Initiative (APPI), sponsored in part by a grant from Merck & Company. University of Washington School of Pharmacy faculty members, Stanley Weber, Karan Dawson, Terri O’Sullivan, and Dana Hammer were chosen by AACP to help create and run the event.

The summit was a breakthrough opportunity to unite individuals throughout the pharmacy profession, including pharmacy practitioners and preceptors, students and residents, as well as representatives from professional organizations, education, and accreditation and regulatory industries. A total of 71 participants, representing new and established, public and private, large and small institutions in both rural and urban settings attended. Academic institutions underwent a competitive application process to gain invitation to the event.

“Pharmacy has a great group of dedicated leaders in education, patient care services, industry, and its professional organizations. It was exciting to see them all focus on the problem at hand. Their hard work and devotion to the goal of the Summit was inspiring and speaks well for the profession,” stated Karan Dawson.

The Summit served as the first step in a multi-year initiative to improve the quality of experiential education sites across the country, expand the capacity for exemplary sites, train preceptors, and streamline processes within and across schools and colleges of pharmacy. Participants received pre-summit activity and reading assignments to ensure efficient understanding of issues and in-depth discussions at the actual event, which was structured as a series of plenary sessions, panel discussions, and planning and innovation breakout groups.

Participants focused on the relationships between schools, preceptors, students, and sites, and the environment in which they function. The result is a defined, prioritized strategy, to be implemented nationwide, that will improve the quality and effectiveness of experiential learning (see NOTE below).

“The success of the Summit will be determined by what comes out of it,” explains Terri O’Sullivan. “The AACP’s commitment to actualizing summit recommendations, coupled with the revised guidelines for pharmacy education proposed by the Accrediting Council on Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the push toward continuous competency demonstration by practicing health care professionals, mean that significant changes are ahead in pharmacy education and practice.”

The impact of improved experiential education is far reaching. Better trained students, result from better trained educators (faculty, preceptors, et. al.). Advancements in experiential education set forth by this summit, benefit the students of pharmacy, the many preceptors who contribute to their learning, and ultimately, explains Karan Dawson, “serve our basic purpose as pharmacists by leading to superior patient care.”

“We have outstanding pharmacist preceptors at the University of Washington,” says Dawson. “However, balancing the demands of precepting with job-related responsibilities can be challenging. I am hopeful that the outcomes of the Summit will provide ways to better support our preceptors not only as teachers but as pharmacists and lead to a model for continuous quality improvement, not only for experiential education, but for professional development.”

It was an honor for the UW team to be chosen to help make the summit a reality and it speaks well for the School and its alumni, partners and friends. “Washington State is well-known for its innovation in pharmacy practice. Our School is fortunate to teach within a community of superb, progressive, and generous pharmacists. We are honored to have the opportunity to share what we have learned by working with individuals in our area with those nationwide so as to help the profession catalyze a rational move to more and better clerkships nationwide” says Stan Weber.

Dana Hammer sees the benefits of putting on the conference reaching not only the national level, but also a more personal level within the UW pharmacy community. “Our school and region will directly benefit from what we have learned and the connections we have made,” she says. “It is already helping us move ahead with our own curriculum.”

Experiential education is a substantial part of pharmacy education, making up 25-30 percent of the Pharm.D. curriculum. “Experiential education is a natural extension of our historical roots,” explains Stan Weber. “Pharmacy has a long and rich history of student-expert relationships, beginning with apprentice pharmacists, the development of internships and basic science laboratory exercises, and now, the more recent introduction of year long clerkships.” The summit was a key first step in ensuring that this aspect of our history continues to develop and grow with the ever expanding role of the pharmacist in the health care community.

The Summit brought together representatives from the spectrum of pharmacy practice, regulation, professional organizations and the education to develop strategies to:

  1. Increase the quantity of exemplary experiential learning sites across the US.

  2. Recruit and train qualified experiential faculty members and preceptors

  3. Elevate the quality care delivered at experiential learning sites

  4. Streamline processes for preceptor recruitment, training, assessment, communication, and feedback

  5. Ensure that experiential learning in pharmacy inculcates skills, values, and attributes related to the five core competencies that all health professionals should possess: provide patient-centered care, work in interdisciplinary teams, employ evidence-based practice, apply quality improvement and utilize informatics.


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