Development of an instrument to assess the impact of an enhanced experiential model on pharmacy students' learning opportunities, skills and attitudes: a retrospective comparative-experimentalist study

BMC Med Educ. 2008 Apr 8;8:17. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-8-17.


Background: Pharmacy schools across North America have been charged to ensure their students are adequately skilled in the principles and practices of pharmaceutical care. Despite this mandate, a large percentage of students experience insufficient opportunities to practice the activities, tasks and processes essential to pharmaceutical care. The objective of this retrospective study of pharmacy students was to: (1) as "proof of concept", test the overall educational impact of an enhanced advanced pharmacy practice experiential (APPE) model on student competencies; (2) develop an instrument to measure students' and preceptors' experiences; and (3) assess the psychometric properties of the instrument.

Methods: A comparative-experimental design, using student and preceptor surveys, was used to evaluate the impact of the enhanced community-based APPE over the traditional APPE model. The study was grounded in a 5-stage learning model: (1) an enhanced learning climate leads to (2) better utilization of learning opportunities, including (3) more frequent student/patient consultation, then to (4) improved skills acquisition, thence to (5) more favorable attitudes toward pharmaceutical care practice. The intervention included a one-day preceptor workshop, a comprehensive on-site student orientation and extending the experience from two four-week experiences in different pharmacies to one eight-week in one pharmacy.

Results: The 35 student and 38 preceptor survey results favored the enhanced model; with students conducting many more patient consultations and reporting greater skills improvement. In addition, the student self-assessment suggested changes in attitudes favoring pharmaceutical care principles. Psychometric testing showed the instrument to be sensitive, valid and reliable in ascertaining differences between the enhanced and traditional arms.

Conclusion: The enhanced experiential model positively affects learning opportunities and competency acquisition, as measured by a new instrument showing sound psychometric properties.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Community Pharmacy Services
  • Competency-Based Education / methods
  • Competency-Based Education / standards
  • Education, Pharmacy / methods*
  • Education, Pharmacy / standards
  • Educational Measurement / methods*
  • Humans
  • Models, Educational
  • Pharmacies
  • Pilot Projects
  • Preceptorship / methods*
  • Preceptorship / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Students, Pharmacy