- Encourage involvement from other faculty by asking them directly and making it easy to get involved.
- Engage students in the process. Students can help with many aspects of brainstorming and development, especially if initial activities are low-stakes.
- Think about how activities will build across the curriculum and make an implementation plan to track your progress.
I first learned of MyDispense during an International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) webinar in the summer of 2020. After listening to examples of uses around the globe, my mind was teeming with ideas. I was able to imagine it being used my own course, Self-Care Therapeutics, as well as several other places in our curriculum.
Did you have a similar experience when you first heard about MyDispense? Perhaps you were full of ideas, but weren’t sure about how to get started? I’m happy to share our experience at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy and perhaps it will give you some ideas of how to proceed.
While we didn’t have any immediate needs that our institution were needed to address, I felt that MyDispense could give students more practice the “Collect” step of the JCPP Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process. In addition, I thought it could provide a more realistic environment for some activities already developed within the curriculum. My department chair suggested getting a group of faculty together to brainstorm and guide implementation and asked me to lead it. To recruit interested faculty, I demonstrated MyDispense during a department meeting and asked interested faculty to send me an email to join the MyDispense Planning Committee. I also individually invited several faculty and course coordinators to come to an initial meeting as well.
Approximately 8 faculty expressed an interest in participating. At our initial meeting we brainstormed some ideas of activities (see Table 1) and locations in the curriculum that those activities could be housed. Some of the faculty that taught in those courses were present in the meeting, but not all were. We just wanted to get as many ideas as possible on paper!
Table 1. Initial brainstorming document with ideas about where to implement MyDispense
After a few initial meetings, we decided to formalize our ideas into a larger Implementation Plan (See Table 2) document to give some ideas of how to progress and how all of the activities fit together across the curriculum. We decided to mark progress via phases:
- Brainstorming: the team is brainstorming possible ideas or purposes that a set of activities could meet.
- Accepted: someone has been identified as a leader and is committed to building the activities.
- Developing: activities are in development.
- Launched: that activities have been launched and are assigned to students.
Ideas that did not have any forward momentum were sunsetted.
Table 2. Plan for implementing MyDispense in the didactic curriculum
Development and Launch
Developing, inputting, and testing the actual cases in MyDispense takes a considerable amount of time. I was very excited to jump in and learn the ins and out of the program, but other faculty did not have the same amount of time or dedication. To help, we enlisted the help of current pharmacy students.
We have several mechanisms that allow students to gain benefit in doing work such as this. One such mechanism is our Summer Research Fellowship. The program pays a stipend for students to work with a faculty member on a research project. We just completed our second summer with two students each summer working on MyDispense development. The students interviewed practicing pharmacists to help us identify ideas for cases, wrote the cases with input from faculty, input the cases into MyDispense, and conducted user testing. In addition to summer research students, we recruited APPE students and student workers to test or provide other feedback for the cases.
By having a guiding committee, we were able to coordinate launch times of various activities and track which cohorts of students already did or did not have experience with MyDispense. We also recorded quick screencast videos using Vimeo to provide just-in-time instruction for students on how to use the program based on their experience to date. From the time that I first learned of MyDispense in the Summer of 2020 to date, we have incorporated 28 activities across 8 courses in 3 didactic years. All except for 1 activity are currently used as practice activities, meaning students receive points for completing the activity and are able to use more than one attempt. Once activity is used as an assessment (graded for correct/incorrect answers) on a course exam.
Are you ready to get started? Depending on the culture at your institution, you may want to talk to your chair or other leadership about their support of adding MyDispense activities into the curriculum in a meaningful way. Or you may want to try out a few cases in a course in which you teach. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or others in the MyDispense community for ideas or tips for getting started.