Using clickers to engage pharmacy students across multiple campuses

Click to access free full-text

When you teach at a University with multiple campuses (in our case, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach in Florida and Ponce in Puerto Rico) even with live, interactive videoconferencing – you have to try and figure out ways to connect with your students at different sites. We’ve tried different methods over the years with varying success, but one that worked well early on was the use of  an audience response system (aka clickers). This is something I talked about previously in the presentation, “The Science Behind Engaging Students in Class“.

Our recent article in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education basically describes our multi-campus implementation and measurement of its impact on student engagement, satisfaction, and opinions about projected use of clickers in other courses. We also touched on related issues, such as clickers’ possible role in helping desensitize communication apprehension in students.


Clauson KA, Alkhateeb FM, Singh-Franco D. Concurrent use of an audience response system at a multi-campus college of pharmacy. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. 76(1):6.

Knowledge, Skills, and Resources for Pharmacy Informatics Education

The most recent issue of the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education featured a Technology in Pharmacy Education section.  There is some really interesting reading in this section including, “Use of Twitter to Encourage Interaction in a Multi-campus Pharmacy Management Course” by @Brent_Fox.  Brent actually authored several articles including, “Knowledge, Skills, and Resources for Pharmacy Informatics Education“, which he wrote along with the newly installed Chair of the ASHP Informatics Section Allen Flynn, informatics luminary and frontliner Chris Fortier (@FortiPharm), and I.  With this article, we tried to summarize the baseline informatics knowledge that pharmacy students should possess upon graduation, framed within med use processes.  My hope is that it will be of real practical use to educators and others as specific recommendations are provided regarding activities and resources for class and curricular integration, rather than just observations made from 30,000 feet.  Also, as with all articles in AJPE, this one is open access (OA) in that it can be accessed free, full-text by anyone.


Source: Fox BI, Flynn AJ, Fortier CR, Clauson KA. Knowledge, skills, and resources for pharmacy informatics education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2011;75(5):Article 93.

Pimp My Poster

Like many colleges of pharmacy, ours added a seminar component years ago. The seminar has since been expanded to include a paper, a poster, and a podium presentation.  The topics range from literature-driven examinations of therapeutic controversies to original research tied to the faculty mentor’s specialty.  This year I was responsible for the recitation on the poster component.  This slide deck is what I used for that lecture.  Two particularly notable resources for me in assembling this lecture included the piece in The Scientist that inspired the name [1] and the site maintained by the Godfather of Scientific Posters: Dr. Colin Purrington [2].  If you want to dig a little deeper, here are my current favorite articles on the topic as well [3-5].  The full-text of all of these journal articles is currently available online for free.

I’ve benefitted from attending a lot of conferences over time and have seen (and continue to see) posters that are masterful creations, along with others that are absolute rubbish.  I posted the ‘Pimp My Poster’ slide deck here in hopes that it may be a resource to others, but am also keen for feedback to improve it for future iterations. 


[1]  Westly E. Pimp my poster. The Scientist 2008;22(10):22.
[2]  Purrington CB. Advice on designing scientific posters. 2009. Accessed February 2, 2011.
[3]  Erren TC, Bourne PE. Ten simple rules for a good poster presentation. PLoS Comput Biol 2007;3(5):e102.
[4]  Hamilton CW. At a glance: a stepwise approach to successful poster presentations. Chest 2008;134(2):457-9.
[5]  Wood GJ, Morrison RS. Writing abstracts and developing posters for national meetings. J Palliat Med 2011 Jan 17 [Epub ahead of print].

Influx of Foreign Pharmacy Graduates

A  paper of ours titled, “Global Education Implications of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination” was just published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education.  It was the brainchild of Dr. Fadi Alkhateeb, who suggested we examine the history and trends of the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Equivalency Examination.  It was an interesting topic for me as we have an International PharmD program at my University and I have recently been involved with the interview process for those candidates.  My hope is that the review sheds some light on the process and highlights the development of the Big Five candidate countries (i.e., India, Phillipines, Korea, Egypt, Nigeria).  The paper also covers some of the potential for future research in this area.  I think it will be of growing importance as we continue to see an influx of foreign pharmacists looking to practice in the US as well as learn about the the practice of clinical pharmacy to take back to their home countries.


How to Fight Lecturalgia

I just had the opportunity to visit Tallahassee for the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Faculty Planning mini conference. I was there to present about the use of an audience response system as a way to increase student engagement along with its other benefits (and hurdles). It ended up being one of the best presentations I have given over the last several months because the attendees (faculty from various colleges at FAMU) were so inquisitive! Sometimes presentations don’t generate questions because they are not interesting or relevant; sometimes it is because there isn’t sufficient time allotted, etc. In this case, there was enough time and I got some great questions. I also conducted the session while using an audience response system, which helped stimulate discussion and questions after the fact.

I have posted the slide deck on Slideshare, which can be accessed by clicking on the title slide or here.


Disclosure: Presentation was part of TurningPoint Technologies Distinguished Educator lecture series.

Superiority, Equivalence, and Non-inferiority Trial Design Lecture – Web 2.0 Style

A couple of weeks ago I read a very thoughtful post on one of my favorite blogs (authored by @laikas).  One reason I enjoy Jacqueline’s blog is that it contains evaluation (or at minimum consideration) of the information and literature that its posts are written about…rather than simply repackaging it without any context.  I do believe there is also clear value for blog posts that primarily serve current awareness, etc.  However, when a blog is augmented with the occasional reflective or methodical examination, it is elevated to a different level IMHO.  It’s somewhat akin to the difference in nominations for the medGadget Awards versus the Research Blogging Awards (chapeau tip to @DrVal).  The information found in both award contenders is valuable, but serves different purposes.     

In any event, the post about randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) and evidence based medicine (EBM) on Laika’s MedLibLog made me reconsider a lecture I had just finished putting together on trial design for a Drug Literature Evaluation course.  In that course, there are several lectures on different types of trial design as well as separate ones about EBM and clinical practice guidelines (CPGs) –  but they are all probably a little too insular.  Each lecture may be a little too focused on the technical aspects, and guilty of ignoring how each fits into the grand scheme of things.

The Point Of All This

When I first prepared my lecture on trial design, I think I was too preoccupied with conveying the importance of fundamentals to the students.  Reading the aforementioned post made me re-think my approach a bit and prompted me to revise the lecture/slides to incorporate a little more integration and application.  To that end, I posted them on Slideshare.  For me, this sequence of events is a perfect example of the underlying concepts of Web 2.0 in action…and that’s pretty cool.


P.S. I used the Guided Notes approach (which is why it looks like there is a preponderance of underlined text) and an audience response system in this lecture.

Pharmacy Informatics – The Pharmacist, Librarian, and Pharmaceutical Scientist

Pharmacy Informatics by Philip O. Anderson: Book Cover

I was first alerted to the release of the new book Pharmacy Informatics via a blog post by @poikonen.  I took advantage of Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ to check out the chapter titles and introduction.  That was enough for me, so I ordered it. I am really, really glad I did.

This textbook was created by three faculty members at the University of California, San Diego School of Pharmacy (along with area contributors) to accompany their forward-thinking pharmacy informatics course.  The authors bring a lot of credibility to the text as Phil Anderson is a very well known pharmacist in drug information and informatics circles, Susan McGuiness is a pharmacy librarian who is quite active in AACP, and Phil Bourne is the pharmaceutical scientist who is one of the more clever and creative fellows I have come across. 

The book basically delivers enough structure to create your own pharmacy informatics course.  It begins with a concise overview and the authors’ take on the meaning of pharmacy informatics (see Figure 1.1. above).  Then it sets the stage for why this specialty has developed and where it is going, touching on areas such as telepharmacy and personalized medicine.  The next major section “Prerequisites” helps provide a crash course in the basics surrounding computing and controlled vocabularies then finishes with a really well-done chapter on literature and the web.

From there the book moves onto ‘Information Systems’, breaking them down into hospital and pharmacy along with highlighting the role of informatics in avoiding medication errors.  This is also where a lot of the usual suspects make their first appearances – EHRs, bar coding, CPOE, smart pumps, etc.  I did think that this section missed a couple of opportunities.  Like many other references (and pharmacy education in general – of which I am a guilty party), it really only gave cursory attention to the community setting…despite the vast majority of pharmacists still going to that setting.  Even when it did include outpatient-specific aspects, like automated drug-dispensing machines and automated kiosks, I felt it did a bit of a disservice by not exploring the potential surrounding or psychosocial impact of these types of services.  This section also includes a couple of practically useful chapters on tertiary information sources and PDAs.  Perhaps the most interesting chapter of this section was “Pharmacy Informatics as a Career”.  While it may have been shoehorned in there, it serves as a really nice introduction to the specialty from what type of training is necessary to a pretty in-depth look at the evolution of a pharmacist with experience in different practice settings to a project leader and manager.  I also liked their 25-item informatics specialist job description.

Next was a very robust section on “Decision Support”.  It had a nice hat-tip to evidence based medicine as well as good coverage of classic clinical decision support and pharmacokinetics.  Unfortunately, I found the chapter on data mining (which I was most looking forward to in this section) was a little lacking.  The information there was superior, but I really would have liked to see additional depth, as this is such an exciting area for growth within pharmacy informatics.  The book ends with some forecasting and a peek into the near future (some of which is here now).  It provides a scenario that highlights possibilities for several Web 2.0 tools and approaches for information management and decision support.  It also hits two of my other favorite topics in social networking and open access (more on that in a moment).  The concluding chapter is a pragmatic look at where we can go and how to navigate the obstacles to get there.

Ok, back to the really cool stuff.  If you aren’t familiar with Bourne’s work and experiments with open access, peer review 2.0, and alternate/enhanced venues to disseminate scholarly work – you are missing out.  Don’t feel bad.  I stumbled across them in a variety of ways including seeing a live presentation by JOVE co-creator Moshe Pritsker at Medicine 2.0 a couple years ago, assigning my students and residents to watch some of the PLoS 10 Simple Rules collection (e.g. getting grants, getting published, making good poster and oral presentations, etc.), and reading blog posts about interactive visual posters (i.e., postercasts, pubcasts, etc.) that are housed at  Seriously, skip the clip of the ice skating monkey on YouTube and use those 5 minutes to go visit the 10 Simple Rules collection and SciVee!

Overall, Pharmacy Informatics is not flawless, but I found it to be as advertised or better.  It is especially timely as we are in the midst of examining education, credentialing, board certification, etc. in the ASHP SAG for pharmacy informatics education.  This book would serve as an excellent text for a course on pharmacy informatics and/or a great resource for a college of pharmacy looking to incorporate informatics into its curriculum.


Posted via web from kevinclauson’s posterous

Informatics Masters and Certificate Programs in the US

I teach in our University’s Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics (MSBI) program.  We also have a Medical Informatics Certificate program, a Public Health Informatics Certificate program, and offer a MSBI in Portugal.  However, this isn’t a commercial or sponsored post.  This information is simply to provide some context as to why I am interested in seeing a centralized source of information for all post-bac informatics programs.  More importantly, our Section Advisory Group for Pharmacy Informatics Education in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is also looking at this topic and relevant issues for pharmacy.

It would be nice – if similar to the list of hospitals using social media maintained by @EdBennett, the Google spreadsheet of journals with a Twitter presence by @laikas or the Pharma and healthcare social media wiki by @jonmrich – that there was also a comprehensive list of informatics programs.  Ideally it would be broken down into searchable fields (e.g., online/live/mixed delivery models, thesis or non-thesis, clinical or non-clinical focus, college(s) at the university involved, participation in AMIA 10×10, AMIA Academic Forum membership, tuition, etc.) and program titles (e.g., bioinformatics, biomedical informatics, health informatics, health informatics management, medical informatics, security informatics, etc.).

There are several particularly interesting informatics programs in addition to the MSBI at Nova Southeastern University.  For instance, the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Health Informatics program appears to try to cater to individual professions.  As an example, they list Pharmacy Informatics as a specialty with dedicated pages.  Minnesota also has a promising combined MD/MHI program housed in the Institute for Health Informatics (IHI).  The IHI also has the best video overview for a program I have seen so far:

My alma mater (The University of Tennessee) has a Master of Health Informatics and Information Management program, but it is offered through their College of Allied Health Sciences rather than via their college of pharmacy or medicine.  A partial list of US institutions with post-bac informatics programs I have come across thus far include: Capella University, Drexel University Online, Eastern Michigan University, Emory University, Harvard-MIT, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, Medical College of Georgia, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, Nova Southeastern University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Saint Louis University, Stanford University, University of Alabama, University of California (Davis), University of Central Florida, University of Iowa, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Missouri, University of Pittsburgh, University of Phoenix, University of Tennessee, University of Texas (El Paso), University of Utah, University of Wisconsin (Milwaukee), Vanderbilt University, and Walden University.  Programs that only offer a PhD in informatics are not included in the sample of institutions above.

Some pretty cool training programs such as the CDC’s Public Health Informatics Fellowship and several pharmacy informatics residencies are also available for those in different stages of their careers.

A few websites have collected some of the post-bac informatics programs, but they generally suffer from a combination of missing programs, incomplete information, and (in some cases) are eerily reminiscent of some of the link bait ‘top 50 blog’ sites.  Maybe a comprehensive, searchable site already exists and someone will point it out to me?  Or perhaps I’ll add it to my ‘to do’ list.


Posted via web from kevinclauson’s posterous

Teaching a Course on CHI & Web 2.0 in Healthcare

Last year I developed a course titled “Consumer Health Informatics & Web 2.0 in Healthcare”.  It was an excellent learning experience for me and hopefully beneficial for the students as well.  The course was offered last semester in our College of Osteopathic Medicine – Biomedical Informatics Program.  I plan to offer a similar course next semester in our College of Pharmacy tailored for those students and capitalizing on the lessons learned from the previous version.

While my course was a hybrid of consumer health informatics (CHI) and Web 2.0, the very first Web 2.0 and Medicine course was created by Bertalan Mesko, MD.  Dr. Mesko (perhaps better known as @Berci) pioneered it when he was still a medical student.  Berci was quite helpful in the early stages of the conception of my course and even went on to contribute a brief guest lecture on virtual worlds.  Additional resources have since appeared in the literature detailing experiences teaching Web 2.0 in other disciplines.

My course covered basic CHI terminology and subjects like health information seeking behaviors and the evolution of participatory medicine as well as related topics like open access and digital health literacy.  Additionally, it touched on some ‘classic’ informatics tools and technologies like telemedicine, mHealth, and electronic/personal health records.  The course also featured a second guest lecture by Joan Dzenowagis, PhD, who spoke about Internet safety, governance issues, and the dotHealth initiative.

One of the main things I wanted to accomplish with the course was to have the students use the actual Web 2.0 tools and technologies that we discussed in practical ways.  To that end, they completed a series of mini-projects including: editing health-related Wikipedia entries, creating Twitter accounts to follow thought leaders in their subspecialties, and creating RSS reader accounts to help manage their flow of information.

Overall, the course was well-received and I was relatively happy with its maiden voyage.  My plan now is to continue modifying, customizing, and retooling the course based on the needs of pharmacy students and the previous students’ feedback and then submitting to the College of Pharmacy curriculum committee in the coming months.  In the interim, I welcome your comments and questions.