Teaching Concentrations Add Value to Colleges of Pharmacy

Does your pharmacy institution offer students the opportunity to earn a concentration alongside their PharmD degree?

Does your pharmacy institution offer students the opportunity to earn a concentration alongside a PharmD degree? The University of South Florida College of Pharmacy is one institution that offers a Pharmacy and Health Education Concentration to students who are interested in pursuing a field in academia or precepting, or those who simply want to learn how to become a better educator.

I had the opportunity to enroll in the concentration the first year it was offered to the general student body, and it has added substantial depth to my pharmacy educational experience. I would recommend more colleges of pharmacy to consider offering students the ability to earn a concentration in teaching or other fields of interest.

As a third year student at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy, I am starting to seek and explore career pathways I may be interested in pursuing in the future. I have always had an interest in clinical pharmacy, but I have also loved scholarship and teaching. It is for that reason that I decided to enroll in the teaching concentration, while my classmates all have reasons of their own. Despite our varied interests, we have all benefited from engaging in this unique experience.

It is widely known that the profession of pharmacy has experienced a shift from a large demand for pharmacists to an oversupply of pharmacists. It is not known how this will affect recent or future graduates, but it is wise for students to find ways to differentiate and define themselves throughout pharmacy school, especially as career paths begin to require more specialization to enter. The teaching concentration is reflected on student’s diploma to recognize their work in this area.

USF’s teaching concentration is composed of a teaching essentials didactic course, a teaching essentials lab, an elective, and an APPE rotation. In the teaching essentials course, students each facilitate a 50-minute topic review and discussion. The teaching essentials lab is focused on experiential learning. In that course, students create lesson plans, learning assessments, formalized presentations, and self-assessments. The independent study elective is focused on course design, and we are working to create a new elective to be offered by the college of pharmacy. To complete the elective requirement, students also have the option to take a more clinically focused course including oncology or critical care. The APPE elective has a focus on academia and allows students further insight and experience into academic life.

The knowledge and skills gained in the teaching concentration need not be practiced only in an academic faculty position. The communication skills frequently practiced in the concentration can enhance interactions with patients, colleagues, other professions, and the general public. Institutions can add value and distinction to their PharmD programs by offering these unique opportunities which provide many benefits to the students who participate.

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