Innovative Teaching through Community Pharmacy Simulation (MyDispense)

Clark Kebodeaux, University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy
Marcus Ferrone, University of California, San Francisco, School of Pharmacy
Jill Fitzgerald, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy
Lisa Holle, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy
Tina Brock, Monash University, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Keith Sewell, Monash University, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

In 2011, MyDispense, a web-based community pharmacy simulation program that promotes active, person-centered learning and allows students repetitive opportunities to achieve established learning objectives related to dispensing skills critical to the medication-use process, was introduced by the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.1This innovative, simulated learning environment allows students to practice the necessary skills to accurately and safely dispense medications in the community pharmacy setting. Although initially designed for students seeking licensure to practice pharmacy in Australia, MyDispense has been expanded to mimic pharmacy practice around the world. For example, there are currently 16 schools and colleges of pharmacy in the United States and 6 schools in the United Kingdom who have an instance of MyDispense to help students in their curriculum. To date, over 300,000 exercises have been completed globally.  Many schools of pharmacy are focusing their efforts on students without prior pharmacy experience and use MyDispense to help simulate the medication use process in the community pharmacy setting.

The adaption of the Australian MyDispense software has been successfully incorporated internationally with instances in Australia, United States, and the United Kingdom. In addition, MyDispense is used in other countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, though some instances are still under development. The ability to create various exercises using similar or repeated patient names, addresses, and multiple products provides faculty significant creativity in implementation while providing multiple opportunities for the student to make errors and learn the process.

The various configurations to MyDispense have led to successful adoption by schools of pharmacy worldwide. Despite different medications, legal standards, and even dispensing processes amongst countries, the MyDispense platform has proved viable for its end users. Its adaptability to contrasting practices of pharmacy on different continents further demonstrates the potential rollout to any interested school of pharmacy and is a further testament to its novel design and continual maintenance by Monash University.  Monash University has always been committed to building communities to support pharmacy education worldwide and this value is ultimately demonstrated by its offering of the MyDispense program free-of-charge to any university wishing to implement the software into its academic curriculum.


Individual school and collaborative research projects among several schools are aimed at understanding the implementation of this educational technology on educational outcomes.2  When implementing any new technology into the classroom, faculty are faced with multiple challenges.  Published research on implementation has highlighted the need for appropriate student orientation and appropriate tutorials provided to the students.  Successful implementation was noted when the tool was aggressively promoted and showcased allowing students to see the value of longitudinal, curricular implementation.2

Faculty continue with this model of collaboration by using PharmAcademy (http://www.pharmacademy.org), a global, collaborative website developed by Monash University to allow the sharing of resources to facilitate adoption of this new technology. Users of PharmAcademy can download and use or adapt existing MyDispense exercises for their curriculum as well as share their own. 

Interested in adapting MyDispense for your University?  Please contact keith.sewell@monash.edu for more information!

References:

1) Mcdowell J, Styles K, Sewell K, et al. A Simulated Learning Environment for Teaching Medicine Dispensing Skills. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(1):11.

2) Ferrone M, Kebodeaux C, Fitzgerald J, Holle L. Implementation of a virtual dispensing simulator to support US pharmacy education. Curr Pharm Teaching Learning; published online March 23, 2017. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cptl.2017.03.018.