Key Points

  • MyDispense can assist with off-loading content to make time for assessments.
  • MyDispense OTC exercises are beneficial when first learning self-care topics.

Our Experience

The University of Iowa College of Pharmacy began implementing MyDispense in our skills lab curriculum in the Fall of 2018, starting with the dispensing exercises. It was not until the Fall of 2019 when we realized how MyDispense could help maximize our time with the students during our self-care curriculum.

Our required self-care curriculum is housed in our pharmacy practice skills lab course series. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time during lab to deliver traditional lectures on self-care topics. Prior to 2019, during the second (P2) and third (P3) years of the four-year curriculum, a chapter from Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs (HNPD) is assigned as pre-lab homework each week and the last 20 minutes of each lab session are used to work on counseling skills. During this time, counseling skills are either assessed via recorded counseling or live counseling. For recorded counseling, students work in pairs and one student is selected to play the pharmacist. The other student is given information about the case in “QuEST-SCHOLAR MAC” format [Figure 1] and plays the patient. These sessions are spot-checked for accuracy.

Figure 1. “Patient” script for student

Students are randomly chosen to complete a live counseling session with a faculty member or P4 academic rotation student in place of the recorded counseling. These sessions are assessed for accuracy and verbal feedback is given. However, during our course planning for Fall 2019, we realized we did not have our usual number of rotation students for the first half of the semester. Thus, we were unable to use our traditional set-up of weekly random live assessments. This is where MyDispense allowed us to maximize our resources. The first part of the semester, we assigned a total of 6 HNPD chapters and corresponding MyDispense OTC exercises [Figure 2]. These exercises were spot-checked for accuracy. We then assessed the students’ counseling via a live session over four weeks, randomly selecting ¼ of the class each week.

Figure 2. Previous case converted to MyDispense

For their live OTC counseling, they were responsible for any of the chapters of HNPD that were covered in the semester. This more closely simulates real-life, compared to our previous method of each week where they knew what specific topic they were counseling on. At the end of the semester, the students completed a voluntary, anonymous survey to share their opinions on the changes. Thirty-four percent of P2s (n=32) and 41% of P3s (n=46) completed the survey, for an overall response rate of 38%.

The majority (83%) of students agreed or strongly agreed that MyDispense was easy to use. Over half of the students (54%) felt that MyDispense was more helpful than recorded counseling in learning self-care content.

Fifty-four percent of students felt that MyDispense better prepared them for assisting patients in the real world as compared to our previous method of recorded counseling practice. The most common reason why students preferred MyDispense was the ability to explore treatment options and review HNPD to lay foundational knowledge about the assigned self-care conditions. It makes sense that they would want to spend more time with the material when they are first learning about the topic. Some students preferred the previous recorded counseling method as they can practice their communication skills. Communication is a large part of our skills lab courses, so they have multiple other opportunities to work on those skills.

Overall, 95% of students felt we should consider continuing use of MyDispense in our self-care curriculum. We feel it was a great addition to our courses and we are currently working on adding validation exercises into our courses as well!