Pharmacy Students Teaching Prescription Writing and Nonprescription Product Selection to Medical Students

Sheila M. Allen, PharmD; Marlowe Djuric Kachlic, PharmD; Louise Parent-Stevens, PharmD


Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(3):6972 

In This Article


Overall, both teaching initiatives were successfully led by fourth-year pharmacy students. Specific to the Prescription Writing Workshop, second-year medical students were more confident in their prescription writing abilities after participating in the pharmacy student-led workshop. Additionally, the pharmacy students were more confident in their knowledge of the material they presented after teaching the workshop. Both the second-year medical students and the fourth-year pharmacy students demonstrated a receptiveness to an interprofessional learning environment. Within the OTC Drugs Selective, third-year medical students showed improved confidence in their knowledge of and comfort with recommending nonprescription medications, as well as in their ability to access resources to find information on nonprescription medications. Within both of these teaching initiatives, the confidence of the teachers (pharmacy students) and the learners (second- and third-year medical students) in their abilities related to the material presented (prescription writing and nonprescription product selection) improved.

There are some limitations to consider in the interpretation of these outcomes. First, because our college of pharmacy and college of medicine are part of a health campus, the perception of pharmacists as part of the health care team might be more favorable than on a campus that does not have several health science programs located close together. Second, because the surveys were administered immediately after the activities were done, we do not know how the interactions affect pharmacists' and physicians' long-term perceptions of interprofessional relationships. Future research in this area might involve a survey to examine if these improved interprofessional attitudes continue into practice. While we used fourth-year pharmacy students with community work experience for the prescription writing workshop, the students had varying amounts of experience, though all had experience beyond just IPPEs. Also, the plenary session was taught by a college of pharmacy faculty member rather than a student. In future iterations of this workshop, APPE students could deliver the introductory session. A limitation of the OTC Drugs Selective was that we surveyed all medical students enrolled in the family medicine clerkship prior to the class, but then only surveyed the students who participated in the selective after the class. Because students who chose to complete the selective might have had some bias toward the topic (either higher confidence or lower confidence) to begin with, in the future we should provide the post-selection survey to all students so we can compare their responses. Additionally, comparing the two groups' responses before and after the selective might not illustrate the difference because the sizes of the groups were different. Finally, not all pharmacy or medical students participated in these activities.

Having a fourth-year pharmacy student take on the role of teacher is not unique. Many colleges of pharmacy use senior students in the training of junior students in both the classroom and experiential environments with favorable outcomes. Using fourth-year pharmacy students as teachers within IPE activities is a natural progression in their development as healthcare professionals. Our study has shown that fourth-year students serving as teachers within IPE activities has a favorable impact on students' confidence in their abilities and their perception of their role within the healthcare team.

The successful IPE initiatives described here have opened up opportunities for our pharmacy students to teach medical students in other areas, including administering immunizations, using inhalers, using diabetes injectables, and conducting glucose testing. Additionally, we are exploring having fourth-year pharmacy students teach dental students how to write prescriptions and provide immunizations. We hope that the expansion of these IPE initiatives will provide more pharmacy students the opportunity to participate and benefit professionally from these teaching experiences.