Doctor of Pharmacy Program undergoing curriculum review
The Doctor of Pharmacy Program at Northeastern is getting an upgrade.
The School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) is in the middle of a curriculum revision for its Doctor of Pharmacy Program to meet the changes happening in the world of pharmacy.
Pharmacy is an ever-changing industry, and programs educating future pharmacists need to progress with it. That’s why the experts in SOPPS have spent the last year taking a hard look at the curriculum to see what can be modernized to ensure students are set up for a successful career, no matter which pathway they choose.
Leading the charge is Dr. Mike Gonyeau, SOPPS Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Assessment and Clinical Professor.
Gonyeau has been with Bouvé for over 20 years and is working to modernize a curriculum that can stand the test of time.
The current Doctor of Pharmacy Program is very successful, but also very traditional, and focuses more on knowledge. Gonyeau and his revision team are creating a more competency and skill-based education that students can apply in real healthcare settings.
“If you look at pharmacy and healthcare, the rate at which healthcare changes and, specifically, even just think about how many new drugs are approved every single year, which is going to be upwards of 50 to 100 new drugs per year, so in five years, our graduates will not know 500 drugs,” said Gonyeau.
That’s why upgrading the curriculum is so important.
“If you don’t have the tools by which to teach yourself and integrate new knowledge into what you’re doing in your practice, you’re not going to be successful. So, the premise, then, of our new curriculum focuses on what’s called competency-based education,” he said.
So, what does a competency-based education look like, and how do you go about updating a program that has been successful for years?
A big part of it is breaking down silos.
Faculty and the task force have been looking to integrate courses where it makes sense. That includes having basic science faculty teach alongside clinical faculty.
“In the same course where they’re going to focus on those foundational aspects that are so important for the pharmacist to know and then have the clinical faculty say, this is how this directly applies to patient care,” said Gonyeau.
Gonyeau says this will not only improve efficiency by eliminating duplication in teaching but also free up time for students to explore additional concentrations or different areas of practice they might be interested in.
“Giving students that flexibility and that chance to expand on the things that they really want to do is a huge selling point. Our goal is them in mind,” said Stephanie Sibicky.
Sibicky is the newly appointed Director of Undergraduate and Professional Programs within the School. She is also an Associate Clinical Professor and is on the revision task force.
The task force’s goal is nothing surprising: Attract the best students and give them the best education and opportunity for success.
The plan is to have everything ready so that freshman first-year students can start in the new curriculum in fall of 2023.
Current students, alumni, faculty, and internal and external stakeholders are all involved in the program revamp.
They’re now working on fleshing out how these ideas will all work together and what the courses are going to look like. Upcoming surveys and focus groups will provide the task force with reactions so they can continue optimizing the program before its launch.
Innovative, flexible, and efficient were the words Gonyeau and Sibicky used to describe the future of the Doctor of Pharmacy Program. Upon completion, the team will transition to the Master’s and PhD programs.
“How can we not only better prepare students for existing healthcare but create our students to be agents of change in innovating the way that pharmacy and healthcare are practiced. That’s the goal. We want to think big. That’s what this university is all about. Thinking big,” said Gonyeau.