An exploration of student views and expectations about a new integrated pharmacy programme for Ireland

Strawbridge, Judith, Philbin, Mark and Gallagher, Paul (2014) An exploration of student views and expectations about a new integrated pharmacy programme for Ireland. In: Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE), Excellence in Education - the 21st Century Teacher, 30 August - 3 September 2014, Milan, Italy.


Background : Internationally educators are reflecting on the challenges of designing integrated curricula for healthcare professionals. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland commissioned a review of education of pharmacists in Ireland. This research, supported by international trends, led to the recommendation for a 5 year fully integrated pharmacy programme for Ireland. This study was conducted to understand students' needs to fully inform the design of the new integrated pharmacy programme nationally. The study was designed to determine students' expectations of an integrated programme and their perception of the merits, value and challenges of studying pharmacy through an integrated programme. Summary of Work: Qualitative methodology was used to explore students' opinions. Nine focus groups were conducted; three in each of the three institutions delivering pharmacy programmes in Ireland. The student representative on the National Forum was also interviewed. Summary of Results: The study showed that students recognised that the role of the pharmacist is changing and felt that an integrated programme would provide better context for learning and preparedness for practice. Students had an expectation that experiential learning would be provided in all sectors in an equitable and transparent manner. There was strong support for optional subjects, placements overseas and interprofessional education. Students identified that fiscal constraints were a potential barrier and might impact on the attractiveness of the degree. Discussion and Conclusions: This study is informing the development of the integrated pharmacy programme in Ireland, and will be of interest to those involved in curriculum design further afield. Take-home messages: Exploring student views and expectations is an important aspect of studentcentred curriculum design.

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