The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted everyday life for just about everyone, including educational institutions at every level. They are using a range of strategies to cope. Some are allowing students to return but with restrictions on their movements. Some are offering a hybrid learning experience, a combination of in-person and online learning. And some care entirely online.
Pharmacy schools have had to make adjustments, as well. They are now completely online or using a hybrid approach. Students and faculty adapt to new technologies as they move to a virtual environment, including programs for test-taking and sharing documents and other materials.
About one-third of pharmacy schools also use a team-based learning model, where small teams of students work together to help enhance their learning experience. The sudden shift to virtual learning has been incredibly difficult for these students as they learn to adjust to a new environment, where collaboration is entirely online.
One of the biggest challenges confronting pharmacy schools is conducting lab classes while following recommended health and safety guidelines, such as social distancing. These classes present such a challenge because their purpose is hands-on learning. Schools are complying with the guidelines in various ways, such as limiting the number of students in a lab at the same time and distributing take-home compounding kits for some projects.
Schools are also looking at using simulation labs online for other instruction, such as handling medical emergencies and counseling patients, if such a move is needed.
Pharmacy Practice Experiences
The pandemic also threw pharmacy practice experiences into disarray. Many hospitals and pharmacies canceled these activities or moved them online. The changes left faculty and students scrambling to find new placements. All international pharmacy practice experiences were canceled, leaving students attempting to recover money spent on flights and accommodations..
Students are concerned about how these alterations in practice experience necessitated by Covid-19 will impact their professional development, and potential residency and fellowship positions.
There is, however, an upside to these distressing developments. The discord inflicted by the pandemic has forced pharmacy students to acquire a different set of valuable skills, such as resilience and adaptability. It is also preparing them for the trend in healthcare toward telemedicine, where services such as medication counseling, dealing with adherence problems, and other drug therapy problems are all moving online.
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