Patients with psychiatric and/or neurologic disorders make up a large percentage of the patients for whom pharmacists provide care in all types of settings. It is critical for pharmacy students to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to both recognize and treat these disorders. For this reason, the College of Psychiatric & Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) created a Curriculum Task Force to assess both the current state of psychiatry and neurology curriculum as well as the existing gaps in pharmacy education in accredited programs in the United states.  

Access the full article online. Citation: Julie A. Dopheide, Jolene R. Bostwick, Lisa W Goldstone, Kelan Thomas, Ruth Nemire, Kelly N. Gable, Marshall Cates, Joshua Caballero, Tawny Smith, and Jacquelyn Bainbridge (2017). Curriculum in Psychiatry and Neurology for Pharmacy Programs. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education: Volume 81, Issue 7, Article 5925.

Summary of the Paper

Two separate surveys were created to accomplish this charge.  The first survey targeted faculty involved in the curriculum at accredited pharmacy programs whereas the second survey was sent to CPNP members who had both board certification in psychiatric pharmacy (BCPP) in addition to an academic affiliation.  A response rate of 56% was obtained from pharmacy programs whereas 65% of CPNP members completed the survey.

Clinical faculty teaching psychiatry topics tended to have a BCPP whereas board certification in pharmacotherapy (BCPS) was more common for faculty teaching neurology topics. Topics reported as having the most didactic time (3 hours or greater) included pain, epilepsy, depression, and schizophrenia. Some topics such as autism spectrum, eating, and personality disorders received very little, if any time, in therapeutic coursework. Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences in psychiatry outnumbered those in neurology by 5 to 1 with acute inpatient psychiatry rotations being most common.  CPNP members felt that several skills relating to psychiatry and neurology should be taught with a noticeable discrepancy as to what was currently being taught.

CPNP will continue to support the development of psychiatry and neurology curriculum at Doctor of Pharmacy programs. This paper can and should be used by the CPNP membership at their respective pharmacy programs and practice settings to create didactic and experiential curriculum that will teach pharmacy students to be able to effectively work with and treat patients with psychiatric and/or neurologic disorders.

Key Recommendations

  • Disorder prevalence and the likelihood of pharmacist interaction should direct the number of didactic hours assigned to each psychiatric and/or neurologic disorder
  • Innovative teaching strategies such as team based learning should be employed whenever possible to better engage students
  • Students should be exposed to actual patients with psychiatric and/or neurologic disorders as early as possible in the curriculum to help reduce stigma
  • Pharmacy programs should consider a required experiential component in psychiatry and/or neurology
  • Development of ambulatory care experiential sites in both psychiatry and neurology, in addition to other settings for neurology (e.g. acute care), are critical due to the growing need for pharmacists in these areas
  • Psychiatry and neurology curriculum should allow for the development of core skills and competencies important in the assessment and treatment of patients affected by these disorders
  • A BCPP and a specialist in neurology should be a part of the faculty at every pharmacy program

Related Papers

  1. Bostwick JR, Leung GP, Smith TL, Ahmed U, Bainbridge JL, Peyronnet J-X. Survey highlights the need to expand offerings of introductory pharmacy practice experiences in psychiatry and neurology: Benefits and example experiences. Ment Health Clin [Internet]. 2018;8(1):7-13. DOI: 10.9740/mhc.2018.01.007.
  2. Thomas K, Muzyk AJ. Surveys of substance use disorders education in US pharmacy programs. Ment Health Clin [Internet]. 2018;8(1):14-7. DOI: 10.9740/mhc.2018.01.014.

Resources for Faculty

The recommendations from this research focus on curriculum which tends to be specific to each institution. Please email the Teaching Community if you have additional thoughts about how CPNP could facilitate improving the curriculum at your institution or nationwide. CPNP is already working to support the training of pharmacy students by offering the following tools and opportunities for sharing between faculty:

  1. Discuss classroom innovations with CPNP members in the Teaching Community. This member-driven community provides shared resources, along with didactic and discussion webinars, regarding psychiatric and neurologic curriculum delivery in pharmacy institutions.
  2. Add application-level discussions to the classroom with the Pharmacotherapy Case Series Teaching Edition. This educational product is comprised of 33 patient cases designed to assist you in teaching evidenced-based principles of psychiatric pharmacy.
  3. Add full coverage of mental health issues by using the Psychiatric Pharmacotherapy Review as your textbook. This comprehensive resource provides sufficient coverage to prepare readers for the BCPP exam, but is an excellent tool to aid in classroom instruction.
  4. Enrich your syllabus by incorporating movies recommended in the "Movies in the Classroom" series. Students and faculty with interest in psychiatric pharmacy have submitted movie reviews since 2011. Use the reviews to select the perfect movie to enhance your students' learning.
  5. Explore other CPNP resources to simplify your planning and enhance your classroom. With a growing number of student chapters, the organization is continuously developing new student-oriented resources. Join the Teaching Community and share how you utilize other CPNP events, resources and toolkits to enhance your classroom!