Teaching Drug Utilization Review Skills via a Simulated Clinical Decision Making Exercise

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Background Drug utilization review (DUR) is a central role of the pharmacist, especially within the community pharmacy setting. Previous literature has shown risk of “alert fatigue”, supporting the necessity of pharmacists to utilize a step-wise approach in evaluation of drug therapy during the verification process. Many students are intimidated by this process, and may lack verification practice or experience until their first day as a licensed pharmacist. Educational Activity and Setting An innovative skills-based laboratory exercise was developed for third-year pharmacy students to develop DUR skills. Through simulation of patient prescriptions, profiles, and drug information resources, students were tasked with completing a DUR for each patient case. Students were expected evaluate the clinical significance of various drug-related problems, determine if they would or would not dispense the prescription, and were required to provide rationale for their decision. Findings This learning activity was well-received by the student population; however, students struggled with the volume of cases along with identifying a solution to the clinical scenario. On average, students required nine minutes per case, which is likely longer than community pharmacists can devote to a single DUR in practice. Discussion In response, to student challenges with the activity, the number of cases was condensed to highlight key concepts and cases that facilitated strong discussion. To improve students’ approach to the DUR process, faculty developed a vodcast to watch prior to the activity explaining a systematic approach to the DUR process as well as considerations a pharmacist should have. Summary Development and integration of an active-learning, simulated dispensing activity allowed students to gain valuable experience completing the DUR process, a foundational community pharmacy practice skill; however, repeated experience should be provided to ensure competency.