Many science and health profession graduates lack fundamental pharmacology knowledge and the ability to apply pharmacology concepts in practice. This article reviews the current challenges faced by pharmacology educators, including the exponential growth in discipline knowledge and competition for curricular time. We then argue that pharmacology education should focus on essential concepts that enable students to develop beyond ‘know’ towards ‘know how to’. A concept-based approach will help educators prioritise and benchmark their pharmacology curriculum, facilitate integration of pharmacology with other disciplines in the curriculum, create alignment between universities, and improve the application of pharmacology knowledge to professional contexts such as safe prescribing practices. To achieve this, core concepts first need to be identified, unpacked, and methods for teaching and assessment using concept inventories developed. The International Society for Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Education Section (IUPHAR-Ed) Core Concepts in Pharmacology (CCP) initiative involves over 300 educators from the global pharmacology community. CCP has identified and defined the core concepts of pharmacology, together with key underpinning sub-concepts. To realise these benefits, pharmacology educators must identify, unpack, and develop methods to teach and assess core concepts. Work to develop a concept inventories is ongoing, including the identification of student misconceptions of the core concepts and the creation of a bank of multiple-choice questions to assess student understanding. Future work aims to develop and validate materials and methods to help educators embed core concepts within curricula. Potential strategies that educators can use to overcome factors that inhibit adoption of core concepts are presented.
Background and Purpose Development of core concepts in disciplines such as biochemistry, microbiology, and physiology transformed teaching. They provided the foundation for the development of teaching resources for global educators, as well as valid and reliable approaches to assessment. An international research consensus recently identified 25 core concepts of pharmacology. The current study aimed to define and unpack these concepts. Experimental approach A two-phase, iterative approach, involving 60 international pharmacology education experts was used. The first phase involved drafting definitions for the core concepts and identifying key sub-concepts via a series of online meetings and asynchronous work. These were refined in the second phase, through a two-day hybrid workshop followed by a further series of online meetings and asynchronous work. Key Results The project produced consensus definitions for a final list of 24 core concepts and 103 sub-concepts of pharmacology. The iterative, discursive methodology resulted in the modification concepts from the original study, including the change of ‘drug-receptor interaction’ to ‘drug-target interaction’ and the change of the core concept ‘agonists and antagonists’ to sub-concepts of drug-target interaction. Conclusion and Implications The definitions and sub-concepts of the 24 core concepts provide an evidence-based foundation for pharmacology curricula development and evaluation. The next steps for this project include the development of a concept inventory to assess acquisition of the concepts, as well as the development of cases studies and educational resources to support teaching by the global pharmacology community, and student learning of the most critical and fundamental concepts of the discipline.
Background and Purpose: In recent decades, a focus on the most critical and fundamental concepts has proven highly advantageous to students and educators in many science disciplines. Pharmacology, unlike microbiology, biochemistry or physiology, lacks a consensus list of such core concepts. Experimental approach: We sought to develop a research-based, globally relevant list of core concepts that all students completing a foundational pharmacology course should master. This two-part project consisted of exploratory and refinement phases. The exploratory phase involved empirical data mining of the introductory sections of five key textbooks, in parallel with an online survey of over 200 pharmacology educators from 17 countries across six continents. The refinement phase involved three Delphi rounds involving 24 experts from 15 countries across six continents. Key Results: The exploratory phase resulted in a consolidated list of 74 candidate core concepts. In the refinement phase, the expert group produced a consensus list of 25 core concepts of pharmacology. Conclusion and Implications: This list will allow pharmacology educators everywhere to focus their efforts on the conceptual knowledge perceived to matter most by experts within the discipline. Next steps for this project include defining and unpacking each core concept and developing resources to help pharmacology educators globally teach and assess these concepts within their educational contexts.