Pharmacy Students’ Perceptions of a Required Senior Research Project
Sylvia E. Kim, PharmD,* Jalene I. Whittington, PharmD,* Lynda M. Nguyen, PharmD,*
Peter J. Ambrose, PharmD, and Robin L. Corelli, PharmD
School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco
Submitted May 27, 2010; accepted August 9, 2010; published December 15, 2010.
Objectives. To determine pharmacy students’ perceptions of a required research project in a doctor of
Methods. A survey instrument was administered to senior pharmacy students to determine their
perceptions of the project advisor and overall project experience and their postgraduation employment
Results. Two-hundred twenty-nine (81.5%) students completed a survey instrument. The majority
agreed or strongly agreed that the project provided a valuable learning experience (88.2%), provided
a competitive advantage for postgraduate job opportunities (73.2%), and should be a continued grad-
uation requirement (74.2%). Respondents with plans for a residency or fellowship were more likely
than those entering a community or hospital/institutional pharmacy to agree that completion of the
project made them more qualified or marketable and should be continued as a graduation requirement
(p , 0.05).
Conclusions. A required research project was perceived by pharmacy students to be a beneficial
experience. Students pursuing residency or fellowship were more likely to feel the project was ben-
eficial than students entering the workforce.
Keywords: curriculum, research, research project, survey
In accordance with requirements set forth by the Ac-
creditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), all
US colleges and schools of pharmacy incorporate re-
search-related coursework, such as biostatistics, drug in-
formation, literature evaluation, and research design
within the core curriculum. These requirements are in-
tended to foster graduates’ understanding and apprecia-
tion of ‘‘the relevance and value of research.’’1In
addition, some programs offer opportunities for students
to be directly involved in the design and execution of
research and the dissemination of study findings. These
opportunities may include a course culminating in the
submission of manuscripts to professional journals, an
elective research option, or a research track within the
doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program.2-7
There are various reasons for incorporating research
and research-related coursework into pharmacy school
curricula. Exposure to the research process gives phar-
macy students direct experience in the application of
scientific principles and methodology. Participation in
research enhances students’ ability to critically analyze
postgraduate training opportunities (residencies, fellow-
ships, other doctoral programs) that incorporate research
experience. Students with exposure to research during
pharmacy school might have a competitive advantage
in securing/attaining a postgraduate training position
compared to peers without research experience. Indeed,
a task force appointed by the American College of Clin-
project is a successful strategy to incorporate into phar-
macy school curricula and one that might ‘‘motivate
students to pursue education and training beyond the
Corresponding Author: Robin L. Corelli, PharmD,
University of California, San Francisco, 521 Parnassus
Avenue [C-152], BOX 0622, San Francisco, CA 94143-0622.
Tel: 714-731-0604. Fax: 714-731-7963. E-mail: corellir@
*Author was a fourth-year pharmacy student at the time of the
study. Current affiliation for Dr. Kim is Vons Pharmacy,
Lakewood, CA; for Dr. Whittington is Santa Monica-UCLA
Hospital; and for Dr. Nguyen is PGY-2 Pharmacy Resident,
Kaiser Permanente Drug Information Services, Downey, CA.
American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education 2010; 74 (10) Article 190.
Perceptions of students who completed thePCPP in 2001
(ie, the first year the project was required at UCSF) may
members came to appreciate the scope and types of pro-
jects that are feasible for students to complete while also
completing/enrolled in advanced pharmacy practice ex-
periences. Additional curricular refinements including
the development of a detailed course syllabus, clearly
delineated project timelines, and advisor training may
have contributed to higher overall perceptions of the re-
quired research project. Additionally, we surveyed stu-
dents within a month of completing the research project.
Longitudinal assessments (eg, 1-5 years postgraduation)
the PCPP on our graduates’ ability to conduct similar re-
search while in clinical practice, and any perceived com-
petitive advantage in the workforce. Such longitudinal
assessments may include pre-2006 graduates, as well as
a control group composed of graduates from a college or
school that does not require a research project. Finally,
this study lacked independent measurement of achieve-
on student perceptions of the experience.
UCSF pharmacy students who completed a mandatory
senior research project between 2006-2008 considered the
requirement to be a beneficial experience. The majority
experience and should be a continued requirement in the
PharmD curriculum. Students planning to pursue residency
or fellowship training were more likely to respond that the
project benefited them by making them more qualified or
marketable for postgraduation job opportunities. These stu-
dents also were more likely to favor the continuation of the
nity or hospital/institutional pharmacy. Students tended to
perceive paid faculty advisors more favorably than volun-
teer faculty advisors, although all students seemed satisfied
with the level of interaction with their advisor. This favor-
This study was funded, in part, by the Vince Isnardi
Opportunity Fund as a gift to the School of Pharmacy at
the University of California, San Francisco. The authors
would like to acknowledge the following individuals
for their assistance: Drs. Mitra Assemi, Timothy Cutler,
Conan MacDougall, Barbara Sauer, Michael Winter,
Kathy Yang, and Glenn Yokoyama. The authors also ap-
port: Lisa Avery, Paula Belene, Marisol Guerra, Claire
Lee, and Cynthia Watchmaker.
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