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Danladi Chiroma Husaini*, Lydia Harris-Thurton and Yusuf Abubakar


Introduction: It is widely accepted that exposure to extracurricular experiences contributes to the development of values, skills, and knowledge enhancing the overall learning process. The University of Belize (UB) 3- year professional associate degree pharmacy training program incorporates two major experiential learning experiences in the course of its 3-year training. The current practice where UB pharmacy students go for their first practicum at the end of year two of training presented challenges to both the students and the pharmacist (preceptors). Lack of basic pharmacy skills commensurate with a second- year pharmacy trainee and the somewhat high expectations of the preceptors for performance called for an intervention by providing students with an early opportunity to acquire basic pharmacy skills before the official designated end of year 2 practicum. Methods: Students were assigned a minimum of 42 (1st exposure) and a maximum of 72 (2nd exposure) clock hours to volunteer at an approved community or hospital pharmacy of their choice. A checklist of expectations were agreed upon and same shared with preceptors. At the end of the assigned hours, the pharmacist submitted reports on the performance of the student while the student submitted reflection papers on their experiences using semi-structured reflection themes. The reports and the reflection papers were then evaluated for a grade. Data were collected both quantitatively and qualitatively. Results were presented in charts and tables as thematic representations while the grades for the students were presented as mean for each year. Independent samples t-tests were used to examine differences between group grade variables. Results: Students reported engaging in various activities (filled prescriptions, shelve organization, dispensed prescriptions, etc) during both first and second exposures. All the students reported having gained confidence in the pharmacy environment after the exposures. Time constraints and too many drugs to learn were some of the negative experiences reported by the students. A significance (p ≤ 0.05) difference was observed between the first and second experiential learning. Also, a significant (p ≤0.05) difference was observed between volunteer grades and official grades at the end of practicum in all groups. Conclusions: Students gained confidence, knowledge and professional pharmacy related skills which are important for professional career progression and maturity.

Keywords: Pharmacy education, practicum, skills, experiential learning, Belize.

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