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Oral communication skills for development for Pharmacy students: a shared space


Oxley, L and Porteous, M and Holmes, S, Oral communication skills for development for Pharmacy students: a shared space, Teaching Matters 2014 - 'Spaces and Places': Program book, 2‐3 December 2014, Launceston, Tasmania, pp. 28. (2014) [Plenary Presentation]


Pharmacy graduates need to have highly-developed oral communication skills in order to meet the competency requirements of the profession. This includes being able to provide clear, concise and relevant information pertaining to drug treatment, to prioritise information, and to select a communication style and vocabulary that is appropriate for the patient and situation. The Division of Pharmacy has introduced communication skills, including oral counselling assessments, into all years of the Bachelor of Pharmacy program, an important step in meeting the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia (2010).

The failure of some students on work experience placements has been attributed to poor oral communication skills. Although Learning Skills Advisers (Student Learning Team) provide academic and English language skills support to all University of Tasmania students, uptake by Pharmacy students has historically been very low. Students sometimes expressed a view that the Learning Skills Advisers, being unfamiliar with the specific communication tasks and challenges within the Pharmacy course, would be unable to assist them.

This presentation reports on a collaborative project between Pharmacy academics and Learning Skills Advisers aimed at allowing both groups to develop their understanding of the challenges that students face in relation to the assessable oral communication components of the Bachelor of Pharmacy program, and to work together to design, deliver and evaluate a program to address these challenges. In 2013, Learning Skills Advisers gained an understanding of the role and nature of oral communication in pharmacy practice, and of oral assessment tasks within the course, through observation of classes and discussion with Pharmacy academics.

In Semester 1 2014 the advisers and Pharmacy academics worked together to embed a program of communication skills development into year 2 and 3 units in the Bachelor of Pharmacy. This involved aligning communication skills workshops with practical classes, conducting one-to-one patient counselling sessions concurrent with practical classes, and offering dedicated individual consultation times. This collaboration enabled students to learn vocabulary and strategies to improve their oral communication skills and to practise and receive feedback, at the same time as ensuring their discipline-specific content was correct and appropriate.

At the end of semester, an on-line survey was conducted to obtain feedback on the student experience. 82% of respondents reported that the collaborative program provided useful advice and had helped them improve their oral communication skills. Fifty-two percent of students had been able to identify some aspect of their oral communication that they needed to keep working on. Students suggested that more learning opportunities of this type would be valuable.

The result of this collaboration has been an increased awareness by both students and academic staff of the value of such development opportunities as well as the expertise the advisers provide. The number of Pharmacy students engaging with support to develop oral communication skills has dramatically increased. Advisers have enhanced their understanding of the requirements of pharmacy communication; and are developing a model for embedding communications skills development in other courses in collaboration with discipline staff.

Item Details

Item Type:Plenary Presentation
Keywords:English for Academic Purposes
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Linguistics
Research Field:Applied linguistics and educational linguistics
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Oxley, L (Mrs Louise Oxley)
UTAS Author:Porteous, M (Ms Morag Porteous)
UTAS Author:Holmes, S (Mrs Sandra Holmes)
ID Code:108417
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:Academic Division
Deposited On:2016-04-19
Last Modified:2016-04-19

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