Implementing simulated learning modules to improve students’ pharmacy practice skills and professionalism
Background: Effective communication enables healthcare professionals and students to practise their disciplines in a professional and competent manner. Simulated-based education (SBE) has been increasingly used to improve students’ communication and practice skills in Health Education.
Objective: Simulated learning modules (SLMs) were developed using practice-based scenarios grounded in effective communication competencies. The effect of the SLMs on Pharmacy students’ (i) Practice skills and (ii) Professionalism were evaluated.
Methods: SLMs integrating EXCELL competencies were applied in the classroom to study their effect on a number of learning outcomes. EXcellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership (EXCELL) Program is a schematic, evidence-based professional development resource centred around developing participants’ self-efficacy and generic communication competencies. Students (N=95) completed three hours of preliminary lectures and eight hours of SLM workshops including six scenarios focused on Pharmacy Practice and Experiential Placements. Each SLM included briefing, role-plays with actors, facilitation, and debriefing on EXCELL social interaction maps (SIMs). Evaluations comprised quantitative and qualitative survey responsed by students before and post-workshops, and post-placements, and teachers’ reflections. Surveys examine specific learning outcomes by using pharmacy professionalism and pharmacy practice effectiveness scales. Responses were measured prior to the commencement of SLMs, after completion of the two workshops and after students completed their block placement. Self-report measures enabled students to self-assess whether any improvements occurred.
Results: Student responses were overwhelmingly positive and indicated significant improvements in their Pharmacy practice and professionalism skills, and commitment to professional ethics. Qualitative feedback strongly supported students’ improved communication skills and confidence. Teacher reflections observed ecological validity of SLMs as a method to enhance professionalism and communication skills, and suggested ways to improve this teaching modality.
Conclusion: Inclusion of SLMs centred on practice and professionalism was evaluated as an effective, teaching strategy by students and staff. The integration of SIMs in SLMs has potential for wider application in clinical teaching.
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