An evaluation of virtual ethics discussion groups as a method of learning on a pharmacist Independent Prescribing (IP) programme

Conor O'Hare, Sharon Haughey, Frances Lloyd, Mark McCalmont, Briegeen Girvin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background and purpose
A postgraduate body within Queen's University Belfast (QUB) has offered a pharmacist Independent Prescribing (IP) programme to pharmacists living locally in Northern Ireland (NI) since 2006. In 2016, this course was modified and delivered by the School of Pharmacy within QUB for a non-local population of pharmacists from Great Britain (GB). In order to substitute face-to-face, live training in NI, distance learning methods were employed for one of the modules that involved studying ethical dilemmas. The purpose of this study was to assess participant acceptance and perceived effectiveness of the utilized distance learning methods.

Educational activity and setting
All participants within Cohort 2 of the IP programme offered to GB pharmacists viewed an online recorded lecture on dealing with ethical dilemmas. This involved being taught about a professional decision-making model. Participants then applied this model to four ethical case studies via virtual discussion groups and were invited to complete a questionnaire regarding their views on these teaching methods.

Twenty participants viewed the online recorded lecture, and 19 attended the virtual discussion groups. Eighteen participants (90%) responded to the survey. Participants reacted positively to the e-learning format. Following the training, all participants felt confident applying the professional decision-making model and only one did not intend to apply the model to their practice.

The utilized e-learning format was well received and effective in producing pharmacists who felt confident approaching and resolving ethical dilemmas in their new roles as pharmacist prescribers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number3
Early online date31 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

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