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An initiative to improve the professional communication skills of first-year pharmacy students


McKauge, L and Emmerton, L and Bond, J and Steadman, K and Green, WJ and Sweep, T and Cole, M, An initiative to improve the professional communication skills of first-year pharmacy students, The Student Experience, Proceedings of the 32nd HERDSA Annual Conference, 6-9 July 2009, Darwin, Australia, pp. 284-295. ISBN 0 908557 78 7 (2009) [Refereed Conference Paper]

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Competence in communication skills is essential for pharmacists, and is assessed in all years of the BPharm program at The University of Queensland, Australia. Students of non-English speaking background often demonstrate communication difficulties in academic assessments. This project aimed to determine the outcomes of extra-curricular tailored communication training on academic performance and self-evaluated competence. First-year students were identified based on academic performance and invited to participate in tailored tuition by an independent provider for two hours per week during Weeks 1–8 of Semester 2, 2008. Workshops involved self-assessment and needs-driven communication exercises based on pharmacy scenarios. School-based mentoring was offered from Weeks 9–12. Outcome measures included academic performance and self evaluations of communication competency.

54 students attended the first workshop (42 from 54 identified academically, 12 self identified). 80% of these attended at least half of the workshops. The most common communication challenges were self identified as colloquialisms and pronunciation. Greater attendance was associated with higher achievement in communication-related and unrelated assessments. Moreover, 30 of the 54 academically-identified students had been identified ‘at risk’ of failing the final oral assessment; only four failed, three of whom had poor workshop attendance. Self-evaluated improvements in competence were notable. Early introduction of this initiative is ideal. Students were receptive to the extra-curricular tailored assistance in communication skills, and aware of the emphasis on oral assessment through the BPharm program. The protocol for identifying students is suitable for further application. The future of this initiative will be determined by feedback, academic indicators and funding.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:communication skills, health students, international students
Research Division:Education
Research Group:Other education
Research Field:Other education not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Other education and training
Objective Field:Other education and training not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Green, WJ (Dr Wendy Green)
ID Code:122055
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Curriculum and Academic Development
Deposited On:2017-10-27
Last Modified:2017-11-20

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