What’s on the pharmacy education playlist?

By: Lana Dvorkin Camiel, PharmD and Francis Melaragni, DHS, MBA

Traditionally, the learning resources in pharmacy courses are based on textbook readings, lectures and practice exercises. Educators know from experience and ‘VARK’ research that learning encompasses visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic styles.1 Podcasting offers the opportunity to share interesting content, fully engage students with auditory and/or visual learning styles, and to enrich the overall learning environment for all students.

Studies have provided positive results for a wide variety of students using podcasts in medical and healthcare education.2 Pharmacy literature demonstrates that podcasts and vodcasts have been used to provide formative feedback on assignments, enhance understanding of topics like calculations, and explore drug information concepts.3, 4,5 As the world of pharmacy podcasting continues to grow, some of the areas of discussion currently addressed include:

  • Evidence-based medicine and pharmacy
  • Continuing education
  • Pharmacy subspecialties (e.g. critical care, geriatrics, pharmacogenomics, digital health)
  • Leadership
  • Investing and financial education
  • Natural medicine
  • Opioid epidemic education 

These and many more could potentially be incorporated into your curriculum.

Benefits of leveraging podcasting

  • Introducing students to experts in the field. Many experts can describe experiences, pearls of wisdom, lessons learned, controversial topics and provide current trends and updates. It’s often not possible to bring them to each classroom. Educators utilizing podcast interviews can expose students to real life examples, making learning more relevant and current. 
  • Providing access to a wealth of existing free resources. There are many podcasts in the pharmacy world that can be utilized in courses immediately. These resources are free and easily accessible. Podcast search engines such as Listen Notes can be utilized to find the most appropriate information to share.
  • Accommodating different learning styles. By adding podcasts, one provides auditory and/ or visual assignments and creates a more enriched and even playing field. 
  • Freeing time for active learning in the classroom. Podcasts are a wonderful way to deliver introductory content, typically more suited for passive learning. This can free up valuable classroom time for more active learning such as addressing questions, participating in group discussions, and engaging with others. 
  • Meeting students where they are. Podcasts can help students to fit learning into their regular routines. They can be used anywhere at any time, students can learn while exercising, cooking, or commuting.  

Helping students to get the most out of podcasts

To help learners focus on the most important content, it’s essential for educators to create specific questions for upcoming class discussions or prompts for reflections. 

To get more out of their listening experience, learners can be instructed to:

  • Summarize main points
  • Describe the relevance to their topic of study
  • Investigate applications to professional life
  • Explore applications to personal life and more.

Additionally, educators need to be selective and mindful of how long it will take a student to listen to podcasts and complete associated assignments since episodes can vary in time greatly. 

At last, assigning podcast episodes without additional guidance as discussed above is not sufficient for students to process and retain the information successfully.  

Tips for effectively incorporating podcasts into courses 

Faculty can introduce podcasts into courses through the Learning Management System.  The following elements would typically be included – direct links to the episode show notes or links to podcasting platforms (i.e., Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher) with names for specific episodes. 

The following table provides recommendations when considering specific content: 

PurposeWhen Length FocusAssessments
Introduce a topic to be prepared for discussionsBefore classLonger
(30-60 mins) episodes
Content sharing, definitions and introducing new conceptsGraded/ ungraded reflection posts; integrate questions on content into in-class discussions
Illustrate with a case example or expand on a concept During classShorter
(3-5 mins) audio/video clips
Brief content to engage the learner (e.g., funny, thought provoking ways to facilitate further discussion)Formative assessments via surveys/polls during in-class discussions
Reinforce the topic or help to go deeperAfter classLonger 
(30-60 mins) episodes
Content exploring applications to practiceGraded/ ungraded reflection posts

Conclusion

Podcasting is growing exponentially in our society.  Including podcasts in your courses and assignments helps to enhance the learning environment and engage students. Educators have many options of where to begin, leveraging content that exists already or taking it further by developing their unique contributions. 

What’s your personal experience with podcasting?

How would you incorporate podcasts into your courses?

References

  1. Fleming ND, Mills C. Not another inventory, rather a catalyst for reflection. To Improve the Academy. 1992;11(1):137-155. doi:10.1002/j.2334-4822.1992.tb00213.x
  2. Cho D, Cosimini M, Espinoza J. Podcasting in medical education: A review of the literature. Korean Journal of Medical Education. 2017;29(4):229-239. doi:10.3946/kjme.2017.69
  3. Kane SP, Shuman M, Patel K, Olson M. Characteristics of Drug-Related podcasts and this Medium’s potential as a pharmacy education tool. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2019;83(8):7083. doi:10.5688/ajpe7083
  4. Mnatzaganian CL, Singh RF, Best BM, Morello CM. Effectiveness of providing video podcasts to Pharmacy students in a Self-Study Pharmaceutical Calculations module. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2020;84(12). doi:10.5688/ajpe7977
  5. Flood M, Hayden JC, Bourke B, Gallagher PJ, Maher S. Design and evaluation of video podcasts for providing online feedback on formative pharmaceutical calculations assessments. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 2017;81(10):6400. doi:10.5688/ajpe6400

Author Bio(s)

Lana Dvorkin Camiel is a Professor of Pharmacy Practice at MCPHS University, School of Pharmacy, Boston. Lana’s educational scholarship interests include teaching with technology, natural products and resilience. In her free time, Lana enjoys reading, hiking and interviewing herbalists for her podcast Plant Love Radio.

Francis Melaragni is an Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Business and Administrative Sciences and a Director of the Pharmaceutical Business Program at MCPHS University, School of Pharmacy, Boston. Frank’s educational scholarship interests include quality improvement method Lean, teaching with technology and opioid epidemic. In his free time, Frank enjoys reading, his grandchildren and time on Martha’s Vineyard.


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

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