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Despite the vast amount of primary literature and evidence-based guidelines available to assist pharmacists in therapeutic decision-making, controversies occasionally arise over the best approach for management of a drug therapy problem due to incomplete or conflicting information. In these situations, pharmacists must be able to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills to assess the available data and make an informed decision based on a thorough evaluation of the literature. The purpose of this activity is to provide students with the opportunity to develop these higher-level cognitive skills by debating a controversial therapeutic topic after a comprehensive evaluation of the data supporting or refuting the issue.

Learning Objectives
  1. Develop an appropriate search strategy to identify relevant literature for information on a particular controversial therapeutic topic.

  2. Critically evaluate the methodology and results of the relevant literature sources.

  3. Formulate a valid argument that supports one side of the specified topic and develop a written summary of that argument using a given template.

  4. Deliver a concise, informative, and persuasive presentation of the argument at a level appropriate to the audience and defend the assigned position upon questioning.

  5. Identify flaws or inconsistencies in the evidence being used to support an argument that differs from your own and communicate that information in a respectful manner.

  6. Develop a consensus opinion on the best approach to management of a controversial drug therapy problem and apply the information to a patient-specific situation using the steps in the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process (PPCP).

  7. Work efficiently to complete the assignment on time and in the appropriate format.

Foundational Knowledge Required

To be successful, students need to have already developed basic competency in application of the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process (PPCP) and literature evaluation skills, and they should have a general foundational knowledge of current guidelines for management of various therapeutic topics. At a minimum, prior to attempting this activity, students should have previously demonstrated sufficient knowledge and skills to be able to perform at the Level II (Direct Supervision) or higher of Entrustability for the EPA Patient Care Provider and Information Master domains.

Suggested Resources
  • Aparasu RR, Bentley JP, eds. Principles of Research Design and Drug Literature Evaluation. 2nd ed.

  • Dawson B, Trapp RG. Basic and Clinical Biostatistics. 4th ed.

  • Dipiro JT, Talbert RL, Yee GC, Matzke GR, Wells BG, Posey LM, eds. Pharmacotherapy: A Pathophysiologic Approach. 10th ed.

Assignment Instructions

  1. This activity requires a minimum of two students. Each student will be assigned to complete two debates during the course—one presentation arguing the “pro” side of a controversial topic, and one presentation arguing the “con” side of a controversial topic. Depending on the size of the class, the course coordinator may assign groups of two or more students to work together on this exercise.

  2. The course coordinator will develop a master schedule for the presentations and provide it to all students at the beginning of the semester.

  3. Topics for each debate will be revealed approximately 4 weeks before ...

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