Why the Learning and Living Curriculum?

Traditionally, pharmacists were medication experts who dispensed drugs and did not interact much with patients. Things have changed, and now pharmacists wear a lot more hats. Through the Learning and Living Curriculum, our students are gaining essential qualities that will help them navigate the ever-changing pharmacy landscape.

Today’s pharmacists are the most accessible health care professional. They commonly work in community, hospital and clinical settings as vital team members, monitoring their patients’ medication use. Their goal is their patients’ health and drug safety, and helping to lower costs.

When developing a vision of a new Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum, faculty members in the college thought about the changing nature of the field and determined which skills, abilities and attitudes the curriculum should foster.

For example, modern-day pharmacists and their patients are constantly barraged with a quickly growing overload of medical knowledge and information. “With more and more patients picking up questionable medical advice online, it’s important that pharmacists can sift good information and advice out of the bad,” said Vern Duba, a faculty member and instructional services specialist in the college.

“With the web and blogs, there’s so much information that’s available directly to the patient. So it becomes the pharmacist’s job to become that evaluator of the information that they’re finding. To discern, is it valuable? They have become educators for their patients,” Duba said.

The Learning and Living Curriculum kicked off in the fall of 2015 with first-year College of Pharmacy students. It's initial spark happened in 2009, when Dean and Professor Donald Letendre, PharmD, appointed a committee of faculty members to think outside the box and create a new, avant-garde, learning program. Over time, other forces accelerated the drive towards change.

“Our PharmD learning program had morphed over the years to keep us amongst the best colleges of pharmacy in the country, but we wanted to get even better,” said Gary Milavetz, an associate professor and division head of Applied Clinical Sciences. “Our accrediting body adopted new standards for professional programs. In addition, we had been slowly trying various aspects of active learning in our program and our students had been generally pleased with their improved knowledge and skills. We thought (the timing was good) to fully implement the change in pedagogy.”

The Learning and Living Curriculum refreshed a Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum that had been established in 1993 and revised in 2001.