Personal DNA Testing Increases Pharmacy Students' Confidence and Competence in Pharmacogenomics

Mahfoud Assem, PhD; Ulrich Broeckel, MD; George E. MacKinnon, PhD


Am J Pharm Educ. 2021;85(4):8249 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Objective: Pharmacogenomics, a key tool in personalized medicine, and therapeutic drug management is projected to become an integral part of pharmacy practice. This study describes an innovative pedagogy that used several interactive learning methods to increase learners' competence and perceptions in pharmacogenomics.

Methods: First-year student pharmacists at the Medical College of Wisconsin participated in lectures, discussions, and patient care laboratory training on the topic of pharmacogenomics. These students were given the opportunity to undergo personal pharmacogenomics testing. Before and after these activities, participants were surveyed about their attitudes towards the use of pharmacogenomics in current and future practice.

Results: Forty-five students participated in this voluntary personal pharmacogenomics testing and completed pre-course and post-course surveys. Significant improvements were seen in 22 of the 27 surveys questions responses from the pre-course to the post-course surveys. Student learning outcomes, competencies, and attitudes towards pharmacogenomics improved from a relatively neutral perception of pharmacogenomics to one of more confidence.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that participation in a novel pedagogy that included voluntarily individual pharmacogenomics testing was beneficial to student pharmacists by improving knowledge, interest, and confidence in pharmacogenomics and its incorporation into their future pharmacy practice.


Pharmacists are in a unique position to provide patient education and counseling in precision medicine and, specifically, pharmacogenomics. This position has been recognized by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) in Standards 2016 Appendix 1, stating pharmacogenomics is the "genetic basis for disease and individual differences in metabolizing enzymes, transporters, and other biochemicals impacting drug disposition and action that underpin the practice of personalized medicine."[1] Considering the need for pharmacy graduates to be competent in precision medicine and pharmacogenomics, it is important to incorporate material on these emerging areas into contemporary pharmacy curricula.

Pharmacy educators are striving to engage students within the classroom using a variety of teaching pedagogy to foster an interactive learning environment while ultimately gaining an appreciation for the impact that knowledge has on their understanding and application in a therapeutic area.[2,3] The Medical College of Wisconsin's (MCW) new School of Pharmacy developed a required course, Principles of Drug Actions and Pharmacogenomics, in the three-year Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. In addition, the topic of pharmacogenomics is included as a curricular thread throughout the PharmD program. To assess the effectiveness of the coverage of this material in the first year, we developed a study that used interactive and innovative approaches to teach pharmacogenomics to first year pharmacy students. Our study goals and objectives were to assess pharmacy students understanding and perceptions of pharmacogenomics.