Giving the Co-curriculum a Home

By Stacy L. Miller, Pharm.D., MBA, BCACP, Amanda N. Jett, Pharm.D., BCACP

“Co-curriculum” – a current buzz term in academic pharmacy. We all have it happening to a certain degree, but how do we give it structure?

With the adoption of the CAPE Outcomes and requirement of co-curricular development in the 2016 accreditation standards, colleges/schools of pharmacy are looking at ways to implement and show benefit of these new requirements.1,2 At Sullivan University College of Pharmacy (SUCOP), a three-year accelerated program, the CAPE Outcomes have been adopted as our programmatic outcomes. The rigor of a three-year program makes it imperative that all co-curricular requirements support professional development.

Purposeful co-curriculum
At SUCOP, we have had much discussion about going beyond counting “widgets” and how to make the co-curriculum purposeful. Below are the steps we have taken:

Step One: Creation of a Co-curriculum Committee
The college’s by-laws were changed and added a co-curriculum committee. Previously, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) oversaw all co-curricular activities; making it difficult to create policy and give structure to the co-curriculum due to lack of faculty involvement. The committee, chaired by the Director of Student Affairs, meets monthly. Members include at least 7 faculty members from the Clinical and Administrative Sciences and Pharmaceutical Sciences departments (the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs serves as an ex-officio member), 1 staff member, and 4 student representatives.

While the committee oversees completion of co-curricular hours and evaluates reflections (discussed below) advisors receive quarterly reports on their advisees’ progress toward completion of the hours. Advisors are responsible for meeting with advisees to facilitate discussion of knowledge gained from activities and ensure students are meeting the requirements.

Step Two: Map CAPE Outcomes to co-curricular events
All co-curricular events are linked to the CAPE Outcomes. Students are required to document in Foliotek© 40 co-curricular hours in the first professional year and 40 co-curricular hours in the second professional year. Completion of hours is tracked by OSA. Students are informed quarterly of their progress. Hours are required to be completed in a variety of the CAPE Outcomes. However, as the program is in the early stage of implementation, there are currently no minimum required hours per CAPE Outcome or activity type. As the co-curriculum evolves, the committee will evaluate the need to categorize events (i.e. direct patient care, non-patient care, etc.) to enhance development of specific outcomes.

Step Three: Educate students on CAPE Outcomes
At orientation, the OSA educates students on co-curricular requirements and the CAPE Outcomes in a 1-hour session. To reinforce the learning of these outcomes, students are required to log events and map all activities to the CAPE Outcomes with the approval of OSA. Co-curricular events are available through:

  • Student organization initiatives
    • Events planned by student organizations (i.e. health fairs, community education)
  • Structured events organized through OSA
    • Participation in interview day, interprofessional activities
  • Professional organization events
    • Attendance at local, state, regional, and national meetings
  • Students’ personal volunteering initiatives
    • Volunteerism at non-profit organizations, community board involvement

Observations To Date
While the impact of these changes have yet to be studied, committee members have received positive feedback from both students and faculty. The table below outlines what has been observed:

Faculty

More engaged in the co-curriculum
Informed of events
Aware of purpose and importance of events

Students

Have a voice on the committee
Culture of positivity throughout the student body with respect to the co-curriculum
Knowledge of the CAPE Outcomes
Understand how events contribute to professional development

Next Steps
In the next academic year, the co-curriculum committee will be implementing reflection requirements for students to help evaluate the effectiveness of these activities. Students will be required to complete two reflections per year for the first two years of the program. As SUCOP is on a quarter system, students are to reflect upon two quarters in which they experienced an impactful co-curricular activity. Each reflection will be reviewed and assessed by a member of the co-curriculum committee. Assessment will be conducted utilizing the reflection rubric created by Tsingos and colleagues.3

Additionally, we are hoping to secure grant funding to evaluate new tracking platforms to help streamline the process for students. Our current tracking system does not utilize an application-based format making it cumbersome and increasing documentation time. It does, however, provide excellent technical support and reports.

Lastly, we plan to survey the faculty and students to gain information on the understanding and comfortability with the co-curriculum. In regard to co-curricular activities most publications have focused on the tracking of attained hours, but little literature is available about the effectiveness of these activities.4,5 We plan to conduct research analyzing the contribution of co-curricular activities on a student’s professional growth.

Our hope is that – as a profession – we are developing co-curricula that are producing better pharmacists. Is your co-curriculum moving forward purposefully?

Acknowledgements
Thanks to Dr. Daniel Malcom and the SoTL group at SUCOP for all their encouragement!

References

  1. Medina MS, Plaza CM, Stowe CD, et al. Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Education 2013 Educational Outcomes. Am J Pharm Educ. 2013;77(8): Article 162.
  2. Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Accreditation Standards and Key Elements for the Professional Program in Pharmacy Leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy Degree (“Standards 2016”). https://www.acpe-accredit.org/pdf/Standards2016FINAL.pdf. Published February 2015. Accessed May 21, 2018.
  3. Tsingos C, Bosnic-Anticevich S, Lonie JM, and Smith L. A model for assessing reflective practices in pharmacy education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2015;79(8): Article 124.
  4. Vos SS, Sabus A, Seyfer J, et al. Utilizing continuing development to create meaningful co-curricular learning opportunities for all student pharmacists. Am J Pharm Educ. 2017;82(4): Article 6270.
  5. Schlesselman L, Borrego M, Bloom T, et al. An assessment of service-learning in 34 US schools of pharmacy. Am J Pharm Educ. 2015;79(8): Article 116.

 


Stacy Miller is an Associate Professor and Director of Student Affairs at the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy. Educational scholarship interests include co-curricular development and student/resident advising and mentorship. In her free time, Stacy enjoys working out, spending time with her husband, Brent, and daughter, Ruby, and preparing for the arrival of her second daughter, Scarlett.

Amanda Jett is an Assistant Professor and Residency Program Director at the Sullivan University College of Pharmacy. Educational scholarship interests include student and resident development and classroom engagement. In her free time, Amanda enjoys traveling, and spending time outdoors with her family.


Pulses is a scholarly blog supported by Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning

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