A contextualised approach to quantitative pharmacology education on the MPharm degree

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Background: Integration of the MPharm degree course is a requirement of the General Pharmaceutical Council, and is reported to improve students’ ability to perceive the relevance of topics. Ultimately, integration occurs in students’ minds, thus requiring creativity in the design of appropriate educational strategies. This is particularly relevant for science subjects, such as quantitative pharmacology (QP), where students may fail to appreciate their relevance to practice. Level 2 QP workshops have traditionally focussed mainly on graphical analysis and calculation of drug parameters from data sets. To better equip students to integrate QP, these were modified to contextualise tasks in terms of drug development for a disease, facilitate collaborative learning through group activities, and encourage integration alongside data interpretation and application. Method: A focus group was conducted with Level 2 students and analysed thematically. Level 2 and Level 3 students, who completed the new and the original workshops respectively, were invited to complete a questionnaire. This was analysed using the Mann-Whitney U test, with p<0.05 denoting significance. Results: A response rate of 79.1% (87/110) and 77.1% (81/105) was obtained for the questionnaire to Level 2 and Level 3 students respectively. Students who completed the new workshop were more likely to agree that they understood the relevance of QP to patient care (82.8% vs 74.1%), compared with those who completed the previous version. They were also more likely to agree that the workshops helped them link information from QP to other aspects in the degree (70.1% vs 61.7%). Key themes from the focus group included the benefits of group activities, and context influencing perceptions of relevance. Conclusion: A more contextualised and integrative approach to the delivery of QP on the MPharm degree appears to positively affect students’ ability to appreciate its relevance to other aspects of their degree and patient care.


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