Service-Learning in Pharmacy
The National Service-Learning Clearinghouse describes Service-learning (SL) as, “a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities.” SL is nothing new, dating back to The University of Cincinnati founding of the Cooperative Education Movement in 1903; although, service-learning in pharmacy is a relatively new concept (NS-LC). SL is a way for educators to provide real-life learning experiences to students through providing provision to communities or underserved populations. The major benefits to students of S.L. programs are offering experience, an expansion of knowledge, and personal growth; and can be beneficial to a student’s career and resume. Most all of the requirements of the competencies in Pew’s 1998 competency of practice proposal, including thinking ability, communication skills, valuing and ethical decision making, social and contextual awareness, social responsibility, social interaction, and self-learning abilities, are met through service-learning (Drab, Lamsam, Connor, DeYoung, Steinmetz, and Herbert 44).
Students at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy are offered a four-year S.L. opportunity as part of the Pharm D. program. All of the participants report having an increase in their writing and oral communication skills, having a better understanding of those in need, and an increase in confidence in the work environment (Bartelme, Ticcioni, and Janke 1). Through these experiences, students are able to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-life experiences. Experience constructs a good resume and creates a foundation for the student’s career practice. S.L. gives the student an idea of the environment they will be working with. It allows them to connect with members of the community, granting them an insight into the needs and relationships between pharmacy/health and communities.
The insight develops to become knowledge as the students experience the life of a pharmacist. For students in the Pharm D program at the University of Pittsburgh, the criteria of the SL program is based on the learning part of service-learning, not the service part. So, students have to actually progress and mature, as opposed to just showing up. Students are required to keep a portfolio for 25% of their grade, written assignment contributes 25% of the grade, direct observations of behavior and attitudes by preceptor accounts for 20% of the grade, attendance and participation being 12.5% of the final grade, quizzes for 10%, and reflective journal make up the following 7.5% of the students grade (Drab, Lamsam, Connor, DeYoung, Steinmetz, and Herbert 44). This allows the student to practice...