Pioneering pharmacy study

Victoria’s Monash University has transformed its approach towards pharmacy education, shifting away from intensive lecture-based learning towards a more practical and interdisciplinary model. 

A recent article by Pharmacy News, one of Australia’s leading publications for medical practitioners, has highlighted the revolutionary nature of Monash University’s new pharmacy degree. Introduced with the 2017 commencing cohort, it is a five-year course that revolves around weekly workshops, academic coaching and collaborative lectures to provide graduating students with both a bachelor’s and master’s in pharmacy.  

Results from international studies on the benefits of interactivity in science teaching encouraged Monash to transform their course curriculum into a more engaging format. Rigorous lectures, characterised by extensive note-taking and memorisation, have been replaced with a streamlined brand of pharmacy education that focuses on practical learning.

The ‘Monash 38’ forms the core of the university’s pharmacy degree, with students learning about 38 of the most common diseases and syndromes, and the medications used to treat them. Narrowing the syllabus scope allows students in the pharmacy faculty to ‘do the work for themselves’ through deliberate practice and interdisciplinary collaboration. 

Feedback from community hospitals suggested that students on placement were competent but lacked practical know-how – Professor Tina Brock, director of Monash’s pharmacy education, noted that the new interactive learning style combats this as it helps students retain the applied skills and knowledge they will need in the ‘real world’. Pharmacy students are required to start placements in the first year of study, rather than their third, giving them more time to practice their burgeoning skills. Developing a practical ‘tool kit’, rather than memorising every disease and drug, produces students who can potentially pioneer pharmaceutical science through their ability to discover, identify and investigate. Professor Brock revealed that this revised style of learning has already resulted in a group of second-year students identifying an important inconsistency that could alter the Australian Medicines Handbook.  

Emphasising the multidisciplinary nature of healthcare is also an important component of Monash’s new pharmacy degree. Workshops between the Pharmacy, Nursing and Medicine faculties encourage students to discover the best practice of patient care through collaboration, reflecting how health professionals interact in real medical environments. 

This article originally featured on Pharmacy News -  Brave new Monash degree turns pharmacy education on its head 


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