Grants and Research Committee Research Annotation, February 2013

By Nancy McNaughton

Title of Reviewed Work:  Design of a New Professional Practice Laboratory Course using Standardized Patients

Introduction:  This article gives an in depth description of a unique patient centered pharmacy practice course in which Standardized Patients enacted members of an extended family in order to help senior level students transition from didactic learning to practical care of patients in their first placements.

Author(s):  Austin, Z., Tabak, D.

Year:  1998

Article:  Design of a new professional practice laboratory course using standardized patients

Publication:  American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 62, 271-27 Grants and Research

Annotation:  The first author is a professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy and the second is a lecturer with the Department of Family and Community Medicine and an Associate Director of the Standardized Patient Program in the Faculty of Medicine, both at the University of Toronto.

The course took place over ten weeks in three hour sessions of which two hours were dedicated to SP interviews. Students were broken into groups of eight to ten, with each group presenting at a community pharmacy. Twenty patient cases (ten broken into part A and ten into part B) were developed based on the care of one extended family (the Osbaldestons).  SPs returned to the same “pharmacy” over the ten weeks.  Student assessment following the course included both formative and summative components including SP interactions, case write up and care plan. The grading was honours/pass/fail. Of the one hundred and thirty students who took the course, one hundred and six received a pass and twenty four received honours.

Evaluation:  The course was evaluated by one hundred and twenty students as a highly positive experience. Students suggested that the opportunity to “practice” on SPs prior to encountering real patients was beneficial and assisted in the provision of pharmaceutical care.

The authors’ appendices include a wealth of resources including a sample of one SP case, the global assessment instrument, a sample schedule, and summary of student evaluations of the course.

Conclusion:  Two valuable contributions made by this curriculum stand out. First, each student had the opportunity to revisit members of the Osbaldeston family over their changing health care needs. This allowed the student to experience a continuity of care model and increase their sense of responsibility to the patient.  Secondly, standardized patients were invited into the learning conversation beyond the traditional feedback about communication and interpersonal skills, commenting on their own life experience to broaden student understanding.


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