Evaluation of pharmacy students in a self-care standardised patient simulation


  • Angela R Thomason Samford University, Alabama
  • Jessica W Skelley Samford University, Alabama
  • Sarah A Neill Samford University, Alabama
  • Morgan M Alonzo Samford University, Alabama


Pharmacy Education, Self-Care, Standardised Patients, Quest/SCHOLAR, Active Learning


Background: Community pharmacists are generally accessible by patients, providing a direct access to care.

Objective: The objective was to determine the difference in student performance in a self-care simulation between using fourth-year pharmacy students (academic) as patients versus trained individuals known as standardised patients.

Method: The simulation was incorporated into the second-year of a Doctor of Pharmacy degree programme. Second- year students completed a self-care consultation with academic students playing the role of a patient in 2015. The same case scenario was completed by a second cohort of students utilising paid standardised patients in 2016. The academic and standardised patients completed the same assessment rubric based on the QuEST/SCHOLAR method for each student encounter in both years. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board.

Results: One hundred and thirty-two (2015) and 108 (2016) second-year students completed the self-care simulation. There was no difference in the overall mean students’ scores on the assessment rubric between the standardised and academic patients. However, students performed better on characterising the problem of the patient and identifying other medications taken by the patient with the standardised patients.

Conclusion: Student interactions with an academic or standardised patient gives students an opportunity for feedback to improve their self-care patient interactions. 

Author Biographies

Angela R Thomason, Samford University, Alabama

Assistant Director, Experiential Education

Professor of Pharmacy Practice

McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Samford University

800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, USA

Office phone: 205-726-4476

E-mail: adrobert@samford.edu

Jessica W Skelley, Samford University, Alabama

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice

McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Samford University

800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, USA

Sarah A Neill, Samford University, Alabama

McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Samford University

800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, USA

Morgan M Alonzo, Samford University, Alabama

McWhorter School of Pharmacy, Samford University

800 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, Alabama 35229, USA


Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education [ACPE]. (2016). Guidance for the accreditation standards and key elements for the professional program in pharmacy leading to the doctor of pharmacy degree: guidance for standards. Chicago, Illinois.

Alvarez, S. & Schultz, J-H. (2017). Medical educators’ perception of communication training with simulated patients: an explorative study approach, BMC Research Notes, 10,650. doi:10.1186/s13104-017-2988-8

Ambizas, E.M., Bastianelli, K.M., Ferreri, S.P., Haines, S.L., Orr, K.K., Stutz, M.M. & Wilhelm, M. (2014). Evolution of Self-Care Education. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78(2),28. doi:10.5688/ ajpe78228

American Pharmacists Association. (2014). JCPP Approves Pharmacists' Patient Care Process (online). Available at: https://www.pharmacist.com/ node/725640? is_sso_called=1. Accessed 6th October, 2016.

Bates, B.P., Bates, B.R. & Northway, D.I. (2002). PQRST: A Mnemonic to Communicate a Change in Condition. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 3(1), 23-25. doi:10.1016/s1525-8610(04) 70239-x

Buring, S.M., Kirby, J. & Conrad, W.F. (2007). A Structured Approach for Teaching Students to Counsel Self-care Patients. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 71(1), 08. doi:10.5688/aj710108

Department of Health. (1997). The new NHS: modern, dependable. Cmd 3807. London: Stationary Office.

Cömert, M., Zill, J.M., Christalle, E., Dirmaier, J., Härter, M. & Scholl, I. (2016). Assessing Communication Skills of Medical Students in Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCE) - A Systematic Review of Rating Scales. PLoS ONE, 11(3). doi:10.1371/journal.pone. 0152717

Consumer Healthcare Products Association. (2016). Statistics on OTC Use 9online). Available at: http:// www.chpa.org/Market.Stats.aspx. Accessed 3rd October, 2016.

Ellington, A.M., Barnett, C.W., Johnson, D.R. & Nykamp, D. (2002). Current methods used to teach the medication history interview to doctor of pharmacy students. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 66(2), 103-107. doi: aj660201.pdf

Gallup, I. (2015). Honesty/Ethics in Professions. (online). Available at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/1654/ honesty-ethics-professions.aspx. Accessed 6th October, 2016.

Hastings, J.K., Schwanda, K.F., Pace, A.C. & Spadaro, D. (2010). An Objective Standardized Clinical Examination (OSCE) in an Advanced Nonprescription Medicines Course. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 74(6). doi: 10.5688/aj740698

Kassam, A., Cowan, M. & Donnon, T. (2016). An objective structured clinical exam to measure intrinsic CanMEDS roles. Medical Education Online, 21(0). doi: 10.3402/meo.v21.31085

McFalls, M. (2013). Integration of problem-based learning and innovative technology into a self-care course. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77(6), 127. doi:10.5688/ajpe776127

Prince, M. (2004). Does active learning work? A review of the research. Journal of Engineering Education, 93(3), 223-231. doi:10.1002/j.2168-9830.2004.tb00809.x

Rutter, P.M. (2004). Evaluation of Community Pharmacists' Recommendations to Standardized Patient Scenarios. Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 38(6), 1080-1085. doi:10.1345/aph

Stillman, P.L., Regan M.B. & Philbin H. (1990). Results of a survey on the use standardized patients to teach and evaluate clinical skills. Academic Medicine, 65, 288-292.

World Health Organization. (2011). Joint FIP/WHO guidelines on good pharmacy practice: standards for quality of pharmacy services. WHO Technical Report Series, No. 961, 310-332.





Research Article