Curriculum development in undergraduate clinical pharmacology

[Speaker] Clare Guilding:1
[Co-author] Steve G Ball:1, Louise Statham:2, Elsa Randles:1, Jessica Hardisty:2, Alan Green:2, Joanna Matthan:1
1:Newcastle University, UK, 2:The University of Sunderland, UK

Education in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics (CPT) is fundamental for the successful practice of medicine. Medical education is moving away from distinct pre-clinical/clinical phases and evolving curricula are largely integrated with early clinical experience. Integrated curricula require careful mapping of the different components to ensure coherent coverage of individual subjects. We developed a new Clinical Pharmacology, Therapeutics and Prescribing (CPTP) strand and mapped this onto the five year MBBS (Medicine and Surgery) degree programme at Newcastle University UK. This strand aimed to include more experiential learning to provide students with an experience which more closely mirrors the clinical workplace.

A range of new educational tools and strategies were developed and employed in the CPTP strand. These included flipped classroom sessions, team and case based learning, online quizzing, interprofessional education and high-fidelity simulation using the sophisticated virtual patient SimMan. SimMan simulations of medical emergencies were delivered both in the lecture theatre, and in an interprofessional education conference for pharmacy and medical students. At a series of key clinical points throughout each scenario the students are asked to vote on the most appropriate course of action (e.g. which drug should be administered). The option with the most votes is applied to SimMan and the students then observe the physiological effects this has in real time.

Following CPTP strand implementation, overall student satisfaction with CPTP units was amongst the highest of any MBBS course, ranging from 90-97% satisfaction. Mixed method evaluation of simulations and interprofessional education activities highlighted high satisfaction and a vast range of knowledge (e.g. 'how to choose the right antibiotics for different scenarios') and skills gained (e.g. 'how to complete a prescription'), and reflections induced (e.g. 'importance of good communication in an interprofessional team).

Interprofessional education and simulation are educational approaches which can be used in early year undergraduate pharmacology education to contextualise the importance of basic pharmacology principles for clinical practice. These pedagogies enable students to develop clinical decision making, problem-solving, team-working and critical evaluation skills.

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