Motivating Pharmacy Students and Removing Barriers to Involvement in Research

A study conducted by pharmacy professionals at the Ferris State University College of Pharmacy found several important motivators for Doctor of Pharmacy candidates’ involvement in research and scholarship projects, and simultaneously identified several barriers limiting their participation.

A study conducted by pharmacy professionals at Ferris State University College of Pharmacy found several important motivators for Doctor of Pharmacy candidates’ involvement in research and scholarship projects, and simultaneously identified several barriers limiting their participation.

In an effort to determine factors that stimulate or hinder student pharmacists to participate in research or scholarship during their Doctor of Pharmacy programs, Tracey L. Mersfelder, PharmD, BCPS; Minji Sohn, PhD; and Heather L. Girand, PharmD, BCPPS discovered that the top motivators for students include an interest in the topic, their status as a competitive candidate for residency or other training programs, an energetic or engaging faculty member or preceptor, and comfort in working with the faculty member or preceptor.

Additional motivators were identified:

  • Research was required to pass a course or to graduate.
  • The respondent wanted to be involved in a project that would benefit the profession or medical community.
  • The respondent enjoyed seeing their name in print.
  • The respondent felt pressure from other students or faculty.
  • The respondent wanted to pursue a position that had scholarship or research as a component.
  • The respondent wanted to present or publish the work, since they already worked hard for the Doctoral Project course.

Faculty and student responses to each motivator were similar: for example, 80% and 83.45%, respectively, answered positively to the statement “I want to be involved in a project that benefits the profession or the medical community.” The largest difference was evident in responses to the statement “I want to pursue a position that has scholarship/research as a component,” with 94.29% and 45.44% respectively answering positively.

Eleven barriers were also identified in the study, including lack of time, lack of knowledge about how to get involved, and lack of faculty support. Faculty responses were generally similar to student responses, with the most common barriers including lack of time, and lack of knowledge on how to get started.

The results of the study provided insight into both the motivations and barriers that students and faculty face in getting involved with research or other scholarship work. Identifying these barriers can help faculty overcome them, or, on the other hand, knowledge about motivating factors can help faculty increase student participation.

The study also revealed a research disparity between students and faculty. The researchers found that a much higher percentage of faculty have conducted research or scholarship projects: 86% of faculty said they had conducted research or scholarship with students, as opposed to just 24% of students who said they had conducted research.

The study stems from a recent push to increase student involvement in research and scholarship, driven largely by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) standards.

The methods for the study included a questionnaire sent via email to all enrolled students and all current faculty at Ferris State University College of Pharmacy.

References

Mersfelder T, Sohn M, Girand H. Factors Influencing the Involvement of Doctor of Pharmacy Students in Research/Scholarship Projects. Presented at: 120th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Chicago Illinois. July 13-17, 2019.

School Posters Presented at the 120th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Chicago, Illinois, July 13-17, 2019. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education: Volume 83, Issue 5, Article 7626.