The tech guru of the 21st century, Steve Jobs, once said, "Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people.”
It’s a message that rings true in many endeavors, but it’s one that is particularly applicable to the tech-minded team of four individuals from the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy receiving the 2012 "Innovative Uses of Technology” award: William Fant, PharmD, interim dean, Bethanne Brown, PharmD, associate professor; Shauna Buring, PharmD, interim assistant dean for academic affairs; and Peggy Barsan, adjunct assistant professor.
In 2011, the team launched an entirely new way of providing immediate feedback to the approximately 200 PharmD students who rotate through the lab each year by adding iPads and video equipment into the assessment activities of the Pharmacy Practice Skills Development Lab. In the past, students’ lab evaluations were done by faculty in the age-old way: by recording grades on stacks of paper evaluations.
Now, with electronic tablets in hand, pharmacy faculty can evaluate a student’s performance in real time using a touch pad to fill out electronic assessment forms. Upon completion of the evaluation, students can log in to a secure web site and instantaneously see their results and read comments on their performance. In some modules, they are also able to view video recordings of their work and have an opportunity to provide their own reflective evaluation of their work.
"It’s a tool that is saving innumerable hours of time and labor,” says Brown, adding that it not only "speeds up the process”, but is in keeping with the university’s "go green” efforts by eliminating paper and reducing the energy costs of making and distributing multiple copies of reports and assessments. An added feature of the new system is the video component, which allows for an actual visual and audio reflection of what transpired during the instruction.
What was once the wave of the future, is now the wave of the present, says the college’s technology applications analyst John Lawson. "Today’s students are always online either on their phones or in a browser of some type,” he says, "and this is the technology that is familiar to them.” The introduction of iPads to the college’s on-site model pharmacy, Lawson says, is part and parcel of the college’s advanced ePortfolio system, developed as part of the IAIMS implementation grant funded by the National Library of Medicine. With this type of secure online system, students log in and check everything from their grades to their individual advising plan. They are also provided with access to a library of recorded lectures through this interface.
"Personally, I make use of an i-Pad regularly, whether it’s reading and article or looking up information … I was very excited to be a part of the technology transition,” says fourth year PharmD student Kayla Swearingen.
Says Fant: "The current tablet technology allows us to use electronic forms to capture our evaluations directly into a web accessible database; thereby eliminating manual data entry and stacks upon stacks of paper evaluations created and collected over the years; and with the time saved we can focus our resources on new ways to improve student performance. Conversely, our graduates will have a complete portfolio of their learning experience here.”
Advanced technology doesn’t mean that interpersonal skills are taken out of the mix, however.
The way in which the iPads are utilized in the lab still requires a personal interaction between the a preceptor and student, just as patient and pharmacist communicate and interact in the real world. The faculty team created and designed the evaluation tools for two modules: Dispensing Counseling, where students learn in a simulated community pharmacy setting how to counsel their patients; and in a Sterile Compounding room, where students learn how to compound medicines for intravenous use.
The team Faculty Award comes at a time where many initiatives have synergized to make the College of Pharmacy exceptional, says Fant, citing the launch of "Vision 2016”, the college’s current initiative to strengthen and enhance UC’s professional doctor of pharmacy program and its master of science and PhD programs in pharmaceutical sciences, and the ongoing effort to bring the college to the forefront of professional pharmacy education in accordance with a recent government report, "Improving Patient and Health System Outcomes through Advanced Pharmacy Practice: A Report to the Surgeon General 2011,” which identifies and supports the expanded role pharmacists now play in direct patient care.
The project, Fant says, brought together a group of faculty and staff with unique talents to coordinate the design and creation of the educational activities, the development of the grading rubric, the coding of the electronic form, and the design of the database and associated web pages.
"Everyone’s contribution to this effort was critical to our success,” Fant says.