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Virtual learning puts pharmacy students in the picture

Griffith University,pharmacy,students,education
Photo: Griffith University,pharmacy,students,education
Pharmacy students are stepping into virtual hospital and community pharmacies through an innovative training room.

The new interactive teaching tool at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus projects high-definition panoramic interactive images onto three large whiteboard walls in a purpose-designed training room.

Dr Gary Grant, deputy head of learning and teaching from the School of Pharmacy, said the images enable students to navigate their way through the inside of a range of pharmacy settings.

“We can, for example, teach someone about cardiovascular drugs - we can go to a cardiovascular ward, open the cardiovascular treatment room and have a look at the drugs that are actually in that treatment room,” he said.

“We call it the window to the world. We intend to capture any setting that our students go out to on placement.
“We will be able to get content from our overseas placements or rural placements, local placements, that could be the setting itself or the actual workplace environment where those students are being placed.

“If I want to navigate through the room, I can actually drag the room around and the whole front view will drift with where you pull your mouse. It’s not static imagery, it’s live.

“We can pull up a product and start writing notes all around the product, because it is a whiteboard that we are actually projecting onto, it’s a dual purpose projection whiteboard.”

Dr Grant said the images create an “augmented reality”.

“So, for example, if we look at a box of medicines, we will be able to identify that box with a mobile app and it actually leads students to learning activities.”

Dr Grant said the virtual learning environment is designed to place learning in context for pharmacy students.

“Whatever the experience that we are trying to create through lecture, we can actually show and then talk of, which I think is an exceptionally valuable tool,” he said.

“Being able to walk over to a pharmacy shelf and have a look at exactly what is stocked in that pharmacy shelf and then educate off the actual product shelf is something that we’ve only been able to do through placements.”

The technology is able to prepare students for their placements, enabling them to have a better on-site experience, Dr Grant said.

“For the first two years, we see it as being almost a pre-placement education tool,” he said.

“By the time they actually go on placement, they’re not getting sort of inducted to the basic layout of a pharmacy or to what the structure of a pharmacy looks like and works like - they are already aware of that and already at the point of being able to work with getting to the patient contact point rather than just being inducted to the facility.”

Students are also able to interact with virtual patients in any pharmacy environment relevant to their work-integrated learning needs.

“As we transition to third and fourth years, there’s this shift from place and product through to really the patient interaction and the services that we deliver,” Dr Grant said.

“Although the environment will be there, it’s not about the environment any more, it’s really about the simulated activities that they do in that environment.”

Launched earlier this week, the cutting-edge facility can also be adapted for students across all health disciplines.

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords