HSOP Announces Practice-Ready Curriculum

Students working in a group

August 8, 2017

AUBURN, Alabama – The Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy (HSOP) will launch an innovative new Doctor of Pharmacy Curriculum (Pharm.D.) beginning in August, 2017. The curriculum, based on the “Practice-Ready” vision developed by the school’s faculty in 2014, emphasizes integration of content from different areas, student-centered learning, and a strong linkage between learning outcomes and assessment.

“The Practice-Ready vision provides a clear goal for pharmacy practice in the next decade and beyond, while also allowing students and faculty to clearly envision what a Harrison School of Pharmacy Graduate will be able to do in their future practice” said Dr. Bradley Wright, Associate Clinical Professor who chaired the committee that drafted the vision. “By taking the first step in developing a clear vision for pharmacy graduates who will directly care for patients as a part of the healthcare team, we begin with the end in mind and place a priority within the curriculum at the HSOP on developing future Pharmacists who are practice-ready and team-ready.”

The Practice-Ready Curriculum will provide Auburn Pharmacy students an educational experience like no other in the world.

Dr. Richard Hansen, Dean

Dr. Richard Hansen, Dean of the Harrison School of Pharmacy, believes the new curriculum puts the patient first from Day One. “Pharmacy and healthcare are changing faster than ever,” said Hansen. “The new curriculum embraces this change by preparing our students to be life-long learners and leaders in the medication use process.”

“The faculty very carefully planned a curriculum that positions the Harrison School of Pharmacy graduate to address primary health care access issues for patients in our communities,” said Dr. Lee Evans, former HSOP Dean under whose direction the curricular revision process began. “We know that our graduates will be prepared to provide medication management and decrease the overall cost of health care.”

Students will be highly engaged in learning experiences that are directly relevant to the work Pharmacists are doing today.

Dr. Lee Evans, Former Dean

Following the development of the Practice Ready Vision, an extremely thorough and systematic process was used to develop the courses for the curriculum. “The process is a classic example of design-based research, collaborative problem solving, and innovation,” said Dr. Julaine Fowlin, Assistant Director of Curriculum Development and Implementation. “The faculty in the school have been fully invested and are passionate about the curriculum reform, as it will be valuable to HSOP and pharmacy education as a whole.”

The new curriculum, which begins with the Class of 2021, will be phased in over the next four years. The curriculum retains the School’s innovative sequence of Pharmacy Practice Experience (PPE) courses, in which student pharmacists work directly with patients from their first weeks in school, but also contains 24 new courses including a focused one-week workshop each semester.

One of the most interesting aspects of the curriculum is the use of Integrated Learning Experiences (ILEs), which are intense six-week courses that require the student to integrate knowledge from different content areas, drugs, and diseases. The ILEs are intended to help students retain knowledge and transfer it more effectively to different practice areas and to give students more ownership of the learning process.

The new curriculum will challenge pharmacy students to demonstrate the development of essential skills necessary for a career in pharmacy.

“The new curriculum is designed to ensure that students are not only knowledgeable, but also able to apply their knowledge. They must be able to identify, prevent, and resolve drug related problems,” said Dr. Lori Hornsby, Associate Clinical Professor and one of the primary architects of the new curriculum. “In helping to develop students as independent learners, they will also be better equipped to adapt their skills to meet the needs of individual patients as well as the evolving healthcare system.”

The curriculum has been designed to provide Pharmacy students with enhanced opportunities for co-curricular and experiential learning.

“These experiences will be woven into some of the classroom experiences, allowing students to immediately see the applications of classroom content in practice,” said Dr. Karen Marlowe, Assistant Dean over the Mobile Campus. “Importantly, this will include learning alongside other healthcare professions in interprofessional experiences from the first year.”

Dr. Timothy Moore, Chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Development said one of the biggest challenges has been ensuring essential foundational knowledge needed by all Pharmacists is effectively integrated into the new curriculum.

“Our philosophy in supporting a professional curriculum of pharmacy education has always been to empower students in active learning and produce graduates that are life-long, science-based learners; possessing the fundamental knowledge base that is vital for advancing clinical practice and associated research,” said Moore. “The new curriculum is not designed to deplete the essential scientific knowledge base that defines the pharmacist’s uniqueness within a health care team. Rather, the Practice Ready Curriculum is designed to meet the challenge of delivering that knowledge base in a more effective manner to generate translational thinking within the pharmacist – from matriculation to graduation and beyond.”

This approach to teaching, learning, and assessment should prepare our graduates to be highly skilled practitioners once they enter the profession.

Dr. Channing R. Ford, Assistant Director, OTLA

In addition to new ways of teaching and learning, the Practice Ready Curriculum will require students and faculty to think about assessment differently.

“Students often focus on knowing what is going to be on the test, concentrating only on what they think they need to know to earn a good grade,” said Dr. Channing R. Ford, Assistant Director of the Office of Teaching, Learning, & Assessment. “However, with this new curriculum, faculty will emphasize the role of critical thinking, beginning on day one, which will prepare students to use the knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom or skills lab in any type of assessment scenario.”

The curriculum has undergone an extensive series of reviews and approvals beginning in early 2016 according to Dr. Daniel Surry, Associate Dean for Curriculum & Assessment.

“The proposal for the Practice Ready Curriculum was approved by HSOP’s Professional Education Committee and faculty, Auburn University’s Curriculum Committee and Graduate Council,” said Surry. “Following that, it was approved by the Auburn University Board of Trustees and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Many people from the Harrison School of Pharmacy and Auburn University played important roles in the development, revision, and approval of the curriculum.”


About the Harrison School of Pharmacy
Auburn University’s Harrison School of Pharmacy is ranked among the top 20 percent of all pharmacy schools in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), the School offers doctoral degrees in pharmacy (Pharm.D.) and pharmaceutical sciences (Ph.D.) while also offering a master’s in pharmaceutical sciences. For more information about the School, please call 334.844.8348 or visit http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

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Last Updated: August 8, 2017