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Reducing the Cost of a Laboratory Course While Maintaining Quality Educational Experiences. Andrea Porter, PharmD Susanne Barnett, PharmD , BCPS Casey Gallimore , PharmD Karen Kopacek , RPh. Objectives.

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Reducing the cost of a laboratory course while maintaining quality educational experiences

Reducing the Cost of a Laboratory Course While Maintaining Quality Educational Experiences

Andrea Porter, PharmD

Susanne Barnett, PharmD, BCPS

Casey Gallimore, PharmD

Karen Kopacek, RPh

Objectives Quality Educational Experiences

  • Discuss the importance and rationale of reducing the cost of course activities while maintaining quality experiences

  • Identify changes that have been implemented in the Pharmacotherapy Lab at the School of Pharmacy

  • Describe the process for course mapping and implementing course changes

  • Identify one aspect of the participant’s course that could be changed to reduce cost and develop ideas on how to accomplish this Accessed 5/13/11.


  • National Center for Academic Transformation

    • Supports colleges and universities across the country in redesigning courses

    • Incorporates technology to decrease expenditures and enhance learning

    • Main cost reduction strategies

      • Use of online tutorials

      • Online assessment that is automated

      • Online course management system

      • Eliminating duplication of faculty efforts

      • Substituting less expensive instructional staff when appropriate

Twigg CA. Improving learning and reducing costs: new models for online learning. EDUCAUSEreview. 2003;Sept/Oct:28-38.

Twigg CA. Course Redesign Improves Learning and Reduces Cost. San Jose, CA: The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education; June 2005.

Description of pharmacotherapy lab

Description of Pharmacotherapy Lab

Pharmacotherapy course
Pharmacotherapy Course

  • Four credit hour, four semester team-taught course

    • Second year: Pharmacotherapy I and II (728-555, 556)

    • Third year: Pharmacotherapy III and IV (728-655, 656)

    • Description:

      • Clinical application of medications in the management of various disease states

      • Assessment and therapeutic monitoring of drug therapy with emphasis on the concepts of pharmacokinetics/dynamics, drug interactions, pharmacy practice, and patient counseling.

  • Lab held in conjunction with each course

Pharmacotherapy lab
Pharmacotherapy Lab

  • One 3-hour lab per week, one 50-minute weekly discussion

    • Total number of labs: 12-14 per semester

    • AM lab: DPH-3 students

    • PM lab: DPH-2 students

    • Each lab session has 21-28 students

  • Staff

    • 4 Lab faculty coordinate labs

    • 18-24 Madison-area Pharmacy Practice Residents assist in teaching lab modules

    • Lecturing faculty attend lab sessions to assist in teaching and reinforce lecture materials

    • Academic Clerkship (DPH-4) and independent (DPH-1 and DPH-3) students assist in teaching lab modules and participate as “standardized patients”

Laboratory activities
Laboratory Activities

  • Patient case discussion

    • Individual cases, individual longitudinal cases, or multiple mini-cases; discussion questions; documentation of recommendations (SOAP) and interventions

    • Preparation: Drug therapy assessment questionnaire, patient case assessment form

  • Hands-on training

    • Medication delivery systems, physical assessment, and disease monitoring tools

  • Patient education issues

    • Disease monitoring, drug and non-drug therapies, risk factor reduction strategies

  • Simulated patient consultations

    • Preparation: Consult prep form, peer evaluation, self evaluation

  • Drug-disease discussions

Examples of hands on training
Examples of Hands-On Training

Student assessment
Student Assessment

  • Mixture of individual and team assignments

  • Weekly graded laboratory worksheets, case discussion questions, patient case SOAP notes

  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE):

    • Participation required each semester of DPH-2 and DPH-3 years

    • Worth a portion of overall Pharmacotherapy course grade

    • Requires trained assessors (faculty and residents) and standardized patients

    • Multi-station exam includes:

      • Dispense new prescription to SP

      • Dispense refill prescription to SP

      • BP/HR assessment and tobacco cessation

      • Patient chart review

      • SOAP note

Course mapping

Course Mapping

Educational outcomes expectations
Educational Outcomes Expectations

  • CAPE Educational Outcomes (2004):

    • Provide pharmaceutical care in cooperation with patients, prescribers, and other members of an interprofessional health care team

    • Manage and use resources of the health care system

    • Maintain professional competency by committing oneself to being an independent, self-initiated life-long learner

Acpe accreditation requirements
ACPE Accreditation Requirements

  • Standard 11: Curriculum:

    • The college or school, throughout the curriculum and in all program pathways, must use and integrate teaching and learning methods that have been shown through curricular assessmentsto produce graduates who become competent pharmacists by ensuring the achievement of the stated outcomes, fostering the development and maturation of critical thinking and problem-solving skills, meeting the diverse learning needs of students, and enabling students to transition from dependent to active, self-directed, lifelong learners.

Course mapping1
Course Mapping

  • Identified overall objective of course/lab

  • Based on educational outcomes and accreditation standards

  • Mapped out objectives of four-semester course

    • Based on lab objectives, identified activities which would remain in-lab activities

    • Identified key activities to consequentially build upon

    • Identified redundancies throughout curriculum

  • Change process
    Change Process

    • Identified high cost items associated with laboratory course

    • Pharmacy practice residents (teaching assistants)

      • Laboratory sessions run 3-hours, 5-days per week

    • Objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs)

      • Once per semester per course

      • Standardized patients

    • Supplies

      • Hands on learning of disease state management

    Cost item resident time
    Cost Item: Resident Time

    • Activity

      • Involvement in all labs, grading, and OSCEs

    • Objective

      • Aid student learning through direct supervision, feedback, and assessment

      • Assist lab coordinators with development and teaching of lab activities

    Cost item resident time1
    Cost Item: Resident Time

    • Identified areas of involvement:

      • Various involvement required to maintain course

        • Teaching support critical for small group work, grading written assignments, and observing/providing feedback to students

      • Less critical activities could be moved out of lab

        • Used online course management systems to include these activities as pre- and post-lab assignments

        • IT support required to implement change

    Cost item resident time changes implemented
    Cost Item: Resident Time – Implemented

    • Majority of labs reduced from 3- to 2-hours

    • Less critical activities which did not require direct student feedback were moved out of lab

    • Examples

      • Some patient case discussions moved to virtual patient cases and/or quizzes (point-based versus pass/fail)

      • Additional student preparation required for in-class activities

      • Transition of worksheets from written to electronic format

      • Tutorials versus in-lab drug-disease discussions

      • Overlapping of lab activities to increase efficiency

    Cost item resident time changes implemented1
    Cost Item: Time – Changes Implemented

    Cost item resident time changes implemented2
    Cost Item: Resident Time – Implemented

    Cost item resident time changes implemented3
    Cost Item: Time – Changes Implemented

    Cost item resident time assessment methods
    Cost Item: Resident Time – Methods

    • Student Performance

      • Moodle quizzes

      • Final lab grade

      • Exam scores

      • Final course grade

    • Student Feedback

      • Lab evaluations



    Cost analysis
    Cost Analysis

    **Comparison between ’07-08 and ’09-10 years

    728 655 course performance
    728-655 Course Performance

    * P value <0.01 for comparison

    728 656 course performance
    728-656 Course Performance

    * P value <0.01 for comparison

    728 655 course evaluations
    728-655 Course Evaluations

    1=Not at all 2=Slightly 3=Moderately 4=Very 5=Extremely

    Grade Scale: 1=F, 2=D, 3=C, 4=BC, 5=B, 6=AB, 7=A

    728 656 course evaluations
    728-656 Course Evaluations

    1=Not at all 2=Slightly 3=Moderately 4=Very 5=Extremely

    Grade Scale: 1=F, 2=D, 3=C, 4=BC, 5=B, 6=AB, 7=A

    Summary of course evaluations
    Summary of Course Evaluations

    Student Feedback

    Coordination of instructional technology, ability of course assignments/activities and lab experiences to facilitate learning, and organization of lab sessions were improved

    Ability to apply course information and skills, teaching methods employed, expected performance in the course, and course rating remained consistent


    • Faculty time

      • Redesigning or developing course activities

      • Organizing meetings with lecturing faculty

      • Transitioning material to online course management system

      • Creating online tutorials

    • IT time (and patience) to train and support lab coordinators

    • Learning curve in utilizing new management system

      • Students and faculty

    • Planning far in advance




    • Individually fill out worksheet (5-10min)

    • Discuss in groups of 2-3 (15 min)

      • Share information on worksheet

      • Provide suggestions to others on their idea for revision

    • Large group discussion of sharing ideas (10 min)

    • Thank you for attending this learning circle!

    • Feel free to contact us with any questions:

      • Andrea Porter ([email protected])

      • Susanne Barnett ([email protected])

      • Casey Gallimore ([email protected])

      • Karen Kopacek ([email protected])