Sample donated: Jessica Anderson
Last updated: September 21, 2019
A student pharmacist’s transition from undergraduate coursework into a professional program can be challenging. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education (CAPE) outcomes related to self- awareness refer to the need of student pharmacists to “Identify, create, implement, evaluate, and modify plans for personal and professional development for the purpose of individual growth.” and “Seek personal, professional, or academic support to address personal limitations.”1 In addition, the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) standards 2016 encourage the use of co-curricular activities to “complement, augment and/or advance” affective domain related items or skills.2 As such, colleges and schools of pharmacy are investigating best ways to incorporate professional development activities throughout curricula.
Descriptions of professional development curricula are limited in the pharmacy literature but documented examples have demonstrated positive outcomes. Zueger, et al assessed the outcomes of alumni enrolled in a weekly professional development seminar series that took place over five semesters throughout the pharmacy curriculum. Through an online survey, the results from 36% of alumni (n= 74), demonstrated a positive influence on career path exposure and communication skills.3 Alternatively, the value of professional development portfolios has been investigated in first and second year student pharmacists. Faculty and alumni mentors utilized electronic portfolios to primarily evaluate student pharmacists’ self-assessment skills and allow for feedback from various sources.
4Across the nation, medical programs are implementing various developmental programs to aid in specialty selections for future physicians, and elements of these programs may be adapted into pharmacy curricula. A 2011 article published in Academic Medicine detailed the characteristics of three innovative career development programs; these three models differed in degree of involvement, cost, and structure. The varying models included student-directed specialty electives, a 2-year longitudinal course, and a doctoring course plus advising team. The authors concluded that a continual assessment is required to develop an effective program.5 Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine previously evaluated their own career development program detailing the specifics of how the school provides guidance to enrolled medical students on specialty selection.
6 The program consists of four main components: specialty interest groups; elective course; career advising; and career-related events. According to the 2011 results of the Association of American Medical Colleges Graduation Questionnaire (AAMC GQ), Vanderbilt exceeded the national average in student perceived usefulness in advising, interest group panel/presentations, and nearly doubled the rate of career planning.