A semester schedule isn’t the only change this year for UC’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.
When classes started Monday, students were also treated to a newly updated Pharmacy Practice Skills Center. Located on the second floor of the Health Professions Building, this new space will offer Winkle College of Pharmacy students the chance to learn their field through hands-on practice in a pharmacy setting right here on campus.
The new Skills Center boasts five learning areas for small-group teaching. It’s a major change from previous years when all students were in one large open lab together, says Shauna Buring, PharmD, interim assistant dean for academic affairs.
The five areas are set up to teach students the skills they will need once they begin their clinical rotations and enter the workforce, but the new space will be used throughout their time at UC.
"It’s used in the beginning didactic experiences and throughout experiential learning rotations,” says Buring. "It’s a bridge between the classroom and experience.”
One part of the Skills Center is modeled like a community pharmacy, with eight spots set aside for role-play exercises in health education and medication counseling.
There’s also a sterile compounding room set up similar to a hospital facility. While actual medications for use in patient care aren’t compounded here, students still get the chance to practice compounding using fake drugs and then practice producing product labeling.
A major and somewhat hidden component of the new Skills Center is the infusion of technology.
The college began using electronic and Web-based feedback tools and assessments in 2011, and in spring 2012, a pharmacy team won UC’s "Innovative Uses of Technology” award. But the technology embedded in the Skills Center takes innovation in the Winkle College of Pharmacy to the next level.
Set up throughout the space—even within the compounding hoods—are video cameras, which will be used to record students as they practice their skills at medication preparation and pharmacist-patient interaction.
These videotaped sessions and other evaluation tools will be available for student review on iPads or other tablets or computers, and will play a key role in self-assessment and evaluation.
William Fant, PhD, interim dean of the Winkle College of Pharmacy, says performance improvement requires that students first receive formative assessment of their work before they repeat the learning activity a second time, and immediate electronic feedback facilitates that process.
"Grading and recording the evaluation rubric prevented immediate feedback due to the number and complexity of the evaluations,” says Fant. "The new Web application allows for immediate grading of the rubric allowing for formative assessment.
"The simultaneous recording of the activities allow the student to actually view their performance and compare it against the assessment rubric. Students are asked to then provide a reflection on the total activity, which includes their plan for performance improvement.”
Sarah Priestle is a first-year PharmD student who has spent years behind the counter of Hart Pharmacy on Glenway Avenue in Price Hill. She says that the Skills Lab and technology built into the space will offer great opportunities for hands-on experience and feedback.
"The space looks fantastic,” says Priestle. "The individual counseling rooms are much more indicative of how pharmacy practice operates. I'm excited to be able to video record all of my counseling sessions so I can review and improve my patient counseling skills.
"The new lab offers many real-world situations from which we can learn, including updated software, most of which is currently used in pharmacies all over the country.”
The Winkle College of Pharmacy welcomed the 98-student Class of 2016 into its entry-level PharmD program during its annual White Coat Ceremony Aug. 24, 2012. Their educational program encompasses pharmaceutical sciences, therapeutics, medication management and patient counseling, with a final year of nine one-month rotations in clinical and ambulatory pharmacy practice sites.
The college also offers master’s degrees in cosmetic science and drug development, and master’s and PhD degrees in pharmaceutics, pharmacology, and social and administrative sciences.