Doctor of Pharmacy

Curriculum

The Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) requires three years of pre-pharmacy studies followed by four years of professional education, regardless of prior degrees.

Students spend the first three years of the Doctor of Pharmacy program on the WSU Health Sciences campus in Spokane or the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program extension on the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences campus in Yakima. The fourth year is a series of six Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE). Students are assigned to one of these geographic locations:

•Spokane •Vancouver •Yakima
•Tri-Cities •Tacoma •Pullman
•Olympia •Wenatchee  
     

Students will complete most of their rotations in their assigned geographic locations. A seventh rotation is optional.

Read more: Office of Experiential Services.

Innovation in teaching

The College of Pharmacy takes seriously our mission to develop outstanding health care professionals. In order to ensure that our future pharmacy practitioners display exemplary skill and knowledge in alignment with our college mission, we have transitioned to an Honors-Satisfactory-Fail (HSF) curricular grading model beginning with the fall 2013 entering class.

This innovative approach supports outcomes and redirects emphasis toward demonstration of learning and mastery of skills rather than on the attainment of over-all course grades.

The traditional grading model (also known as grading on a curve) evaluates student performance relative to the performance of other students in the class. With the HSF grading model, one student’s success is not dependent on the poor performance of another student, and the model allows faculty to measure student competency and achievement on well-defined learning objectives.

We pair this teaching model with a system of support and learning resources to ensure each student has the greatest opportunity for learning success. Student ambassadors, student mentors, student-led organizations, student services resources, free campus tutoring, alumni mentoring, and faculty advisors provide a network that contributes to student achievement.

HSF outcomes

After the first year of the HSF grading model it is clear that we are doing something right.

Traditionally, students are most likely to fall behind between the fall and spring semesters of their first year, meaning they will not be allowed to move forward as result of failing a class. Under the previous grading model, the College followed this trend and would normally see about 10 percent of students falling behind within the first year, with the majority falling behind between the first and second semesters.

Within the new HSF grading model from fall 2013 to spring 2014, every first-year student pharmacist moved forward after the first semester with only one student required to be held back at the end of the first year, giving the Class of 2018 an attrition rate of only one percent after their first year.

Early adoption of new teaching methods

The extension of the WSU Pharm.D. curriculum to Yakima has presented a unique opportunity to the College to further adopt curricular innovation.

The College faculty have agreed to move forward with a "flipped" classroom model, where content will be recorded ahead of time, and other reading and coursework assigned prior to class. Faculty will be present in both Spokane and Yakima to lead classroom time that is focused on assessing understanding of pre-class material, clarifying concepts and answering student questions, working on problem-based activities, engaging in team-based learning, or active participation in case discussion that provides context for the learning that occurred prior to class. Learn more about active learning with our FAQ handout.

Though the territory is new to many of us, we are blazing a well-marked trail. The proposed classroom model follows a clear trend in higher education toward learner-centered teaching, and is built upon sound pedagogical knowledge. Integrating this flipped classroom with a competency-based HSF grading model equates to a learning environment that is truly innovative and effective.

The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) released a draft of their revised standards for accreditation in February 2014. These new accreditation standards will go into effect in the fall of 2016, and will require all Pharm.D. programs across the country to adopt elements of learner-centered teaching methods that are focused on educational outcomes in order to, "ensure that graduates of pharmacy education programs are practice-ready and team-ready – prepared to directly contribute to patient care and collaborate with other health care providers."

Resources

Read the HSF curriculum FAQ

Read the Active Learning FAQ

View the Schedule of studies for each class

Read the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy competency-based outcomes

Read the Essential Functions descriptions for the Doctor of Pharmacy program