DKICP implements forward-thinking new curriculum

January 26, 2024

The first class to graduate from the new DKICP curriculum, this year’s P1 class, participated in a ti planting activity during orientation week last Fall.

The pharmacy landscape has dramatically changed in the past 10 years and pharmacists have moved from working behind the scenes to practicing at the top of their license. Pharmacists routinely provide direct patient care, improving patient outcomes.

To ensure DKICP graduates are practice ready now and in the future, the college has instituted a revised and contemporary curriculum , which began Fall 2023 with the incoming professional year-1 class. That class will be the first to graduate with the new curriculum in May 2027.

The three-year process included the formation of a Curriculum Transformation Team (CTT); rewritten and revised student learning outcomes (SLOs); and the establishment of five work groups that included faculty, staff, preceptors, alumni and fourth-year students. Over that span, five retreats were held to develop a curricular framework; gather input from stakeholders, the community, and other colleges of pharmacy; and to create new or modify existing course to meet changing industry needs.

An ongoing process

The curricular transformation process is ongoing, and we anticipate continuous refinement. Student, faculty, and community partners will provide valuable feedback informing sustainment and improvement initiatives. Potential areas for expansion include the development of electives in specialty areas, such as critical care, advanced genomics, and geriatrics.

Incorporating SLOs that encompass leadership and innovation skills makes the SLOs pertinent today and for the future, and encourages periodic curricular adjustments that would continue to produce high-functioning pharmacists.

Another important component of the SLOs was creating a unique identity to separate DKICP from other programs. The UH System strives to be the world’s top-tier Indigenous serving institute. The UH System recognizes their responsibility to the Indigenous people of Hawai‘i. To support this goal, UH created the Hawai‘i Papa O Ke Ao (HPOKA) plan, which outlines the goals and objectives to meet the higher education needs of our Indigenous people.

The main thematic goals are leadership development, community engagement, and Hawaiian culture and language parity. Incorporating pertinent Hawaiian values into the SLOs was a first step in recognizing and working towards the goals of HPOKA at the DKICP. In addition, it provided an opportunity for DKICP to develop a unique identity, and for students to have unique cultural experiences that are not offered at other programs.

The SLOs incorporated forethought to best prepare students to not only be skilled pharmacists but to be resilient and lead in the ever-changing world of pharmacy. They were also mapped to align with different national organization standards for accreditation requirements, objectives for the national licensing exam, and activities that a pharmacist performs, to ensure the graduates would meet the qualifications to practice pharmacy. The revised curriculum allows for threading of topics, such as communication and calculations, throughout the curriculum, contributing to cumulative application, scaffolding, and relational learning.

The block format

The first year (P1) Fall semester includes foundational science courses, such as biochemistry and immunology, delivered using a block format. This allows the course to still have the same number of content hours, but more concentrated in a shorter timeframe. A course called Principles of Pharmacy Readiness occurs every semester for three years and includes introducing the practice of pharmacy, clinical reasoning, interprofessional education skills and activities, communication, professional development, leadership, and other developmental activities.

The Therapeutic Problem Solving (TPS) course series begins in the P1 Fall semester and ends in the third year (P3) Spring semester. Each 2-credit TPS block focuses on the pharmacotherapy related to disorders of a specific organ system, applying pathophysiology, pharmacology, and medicinal chemistry concepts. This holistic approach fosters the development of a comprehensive clinical understanding to prevent and manage these diseases. Students will develop their ability to apply evidence-based medicine to provide medication-relate patient-centered, and population-based care.

Finally, concepts such as pharmacokinetics, pharmacogenomics, toxicology, immunology, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) will be threaded, as appropriate, so students can build upon their previously learned knowledge.

Application of knowledge is the focus of the Comprehensive Clinical Care (CCC) courses, which run alongside the TPS courses. The courses run from P1 Spring through P3 Spring and focus on students applying their knowledge and critical thinking skills to patient case scenarios to mimic real-life situations. Patient cases in CCC become more complex as students progress through the program. Application, repetition, threading, and scaffolding of key components such as pharmacy law, calculations, communication, and DEI will be intentionally included.

Other course themes

Essential Pharmacist Skills is another course series that will run from P1 Spring through P3 Spring. This is a lab style course that includes topic skills such as pharmacy compounding, immunization technique, mock pharmacy simulation, medication counseling, intravenous drug compatibility, and point of care testing. Topics in Health Care is a 3-course series that will occur each Spring semester from P1-P3 year. Topics include U.S. health care systems, law, insurance overview, medication safety, pharmacoeconomics, ethics, DEI, management, and introduction to technology. This course series is important to help students gain an understanding of the environment they practice in and factors that contribute to medication access issues.

A Pharmacy Informatics and Technology course will be part of the P3 year covering technological topics such as clinical decision support, computerized provider order entry, e-prescribing, telepharmacy, bedside barcoding, automated dispensing cabinets, inventory management systems, smart pumps, and robotic automation. This course exposes student pharmacists to how technology supports a pharmacist and helps to improve health care delivery.

Throughout the P1-P3 years, students will engage in longitudinal Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs). Students will complete these rotations at clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies throughout the Fall and Spring semesters in East Hawai`i Island, as well as during summers throughout the state. The contemporary curriculum increases the IPPE hours in the curriculum, which will provide students with more real-life experience to complement the didactic courses.

The final fourth year consists of Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) and a 1-credit Board Exam preparatory course that ensures students are prepared for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and the Multistate Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination (MPJE). Students will complete seven APPE rotations as compared to six in the current curriculum, providing an extra required clinical elective, increasing opportunities to apply and strengthen their skills in real-life settings. The total credit hours in the revised framework of the contemporary curriculum is 144 hours, as compared to the previous 137.

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