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[e-drug] Undergraduate pharmacotherapy teaching (cont'd)

  • From: Rina Meyer <fklclm@puknet.puk.ac.za>
  • Date: Mon, 28 Feb 2000 10:21:33 -0500 (EST)

E-drug: Undergraduate pharmacotherapy teaching (cont'd)

Dear e-druggers,

While this conversation is going on, we are in the process of
re-designing our undergraduate curriculum at the University of
Potchefstroom, South Africa. The following questions come to mind
and views from fellow academics and pharmacists in practice would
be appreciated (outcomes based training is the buzzword at the

a) How much basic fundamental scientific knowledge is still required
and justifiable for a pharmacist's training? Pharmacist's nowadays
have to be clinical experts, and require advanced drug knowledge, as
well as the skills to apply their knowledge. They require
communication, business computer literacy and information retrieval
skills, and at the same time they still need a strong scientific basis in
order to perform research and be of value in the manufacturing
industry. Should we then extend the training duration to incorporate
new requirements, or trim off some fat on the basic sciences level?
Being drug specialists, pharmacists should have strong scientific roots,
but the practice situation calls for the ability to apply these skills.

b) Should specialisation (hospital, industry, community pharmacy) be
instituted at undergraduate level? The Pharmacy Council of South
Africa requires a pharmacist to be delivered after four or five years as
a minimum requirement, but does not prohibit superior competency in
certain fields, such as manufacturing, pharmacology, pharmaceutical
care, Pharmacy Administration, etc.

c) In what ways and at what stage is knowledge from different
disciplines (pharmaceutics, pharmacology, chemistry) to be combined
and integrated (through problem solving and research projects)? Third
year, fourth year? (Total problem-based learning is a new concept in
South Africa and everybody is awaiting the results of the one
institution who elected to follow that route. )

d) Could fundamentals (physics, chemistry, biology) be limited or
incorporated into fewer modules, or be more closely integrated with
pharmacy disciplines (pharmacology, -ceutical chemistry and -ceutics)
in order to allow students a better understanding of the interplay
between these disciplines? Pure sciences used to be taught in the first
year and application thereof sometimes followed much later, by which
time students have no understanding of those concepts any more.

e) Should cross-field outcomes such as communication, research,
ethics, computer skills, business skills, etc. be formally included in the
syllabus, or should they be electives? They form an integrated part of
modern pharmacy practice and I believe they should form part of the
formal syllabus. Or could we otherwise extend the course duration by
one year (externship) in which these aspects can be incorporated in
their research and practical training?

f) How much hands-on pharmacology knowledge do pharmacy
students need to internalise and be able to reproduce in exams, while
most non-crucial information can nowadays quickly be retrieved from
databases and textbooks, if and when required? Secondly - how does
one distinguish between crucial and non-crucial course content? My
own experience is that there is always a certain baseline amount of
totally indispensable knowledge which can make a life or death
difference to a patient. The rest is available on demand to anyone with
Internet access or good textbooks. The information explosion in
modern science has led to an era where pharmacy students are often
so overburdened with knowledge to a point where "learning" becomes
counter-productive - they simply cannot assimilate the mountains of
study material imposed on them and lose interest.

Thank you,

Rina Meyer

Ms C.L Meyer
P.O. Box 20224 NOORDBRUG 2522 South Africa
Tel: +27 18 2992228 (w)
Fax: +27 18 299 2225
cell: +27 83 286 3820
e-mail: fklclm@puknet.Puk.Ac.Za

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