Educational Opportunities in Geriatrics

Geriatrics in the Pharm.D. Curriculum

One goal of developing the current PharmD curriculum at VCU was to infuse geriatrics/gerontology throughout to better prepare graduates to serve the growing aging population. In this curriculum, a 2-credit Introduction to Special Populations course (PHAR 529) in the spring semester of the P1 year includes topics such as biology of aging, geriatric assessment, caregiving, geriatric syndromes, medication-related problems in older adults, geriatric pharmacokinetics, and successful aging. Active learning techniques engage students in the classroom. Students play the Aging and Medication Game to increase their awareness of issues faced by older adults as they navigate the health care system. In the spring semester of the P3 year, students take a 1-credit Special Populations course (PHAR 721) addressing medication management in complex older adult patients and incorporating reduced life expectancy and patient goals into prescribing decisions. Students complete patient cases in a team-based learning format followed by additional cases in small group discussion. In addition to these two modules, geriatrics and gerontology content is integrated into courses ranging from The US Health System and Communications in Pharmacy Practice to Clinical Therapeutics courses in cardiology, endocrinology, neurology, gastroenterology, pulmonary medicine, and psychiatry. The clinical therapeutics courses employ team-based learning to develop critical thinking and life-long learning skills. In the P4 year, all students complete a 200-hour APPE working with older adults in a variety of pharmacy practice settings.

Geriatrics Elective

Geriatrics 101: Demystifying a Population: Most pharmacists, regardless of their practice setting, will be expected to care for an older adult at some point in their career. This 2-credit course is designed to expand upon the fundamental geriatric concepts presented throughout the PharmD curriculum and to challenge students to apply gained knowledge to patient cases and scenarios. Students will also gain experience working in teams and effectively sharing information. The over-arching goal of this course is to prepare student pharmacists to communicate with, assess, and treat older adults in a variety of settings.

Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics

Faculty members in the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program actively participate in the Next Steps in Physicians’ Training in Geriatrics, an interprofessional educational (IPE) activity that is funded by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation. This project involves senior students from pharmacy, medicine, nursing, and social work collaborating in small groups using a virtual classroom and an electronic health record to solve an evolving complex geriatric patient case. The goals of this IPE exercise include learning and applying geriatric-specific knowledge and learning to work collaboratively in teams. Faculty members from all disciplines were actively involved in the creation of this unique IPE activity and remain involved in its delivery.

PharmD-Graduate Certificate in Aging Studies

VCU has offered a combined Doctor of Pharmacy and Graduate Certificate in Aging Studies for more than 25 years. The collaboration between the Department of Gerontology and the School of Pharmacy continues to flourish and expand. This unique opportunity allows pharmacy students to interact with colleagues from other disciplines, including gerontology, social work, nursing, and psychology, who share a common interest in caring for older adults. Pharmacy students are challenged to expand their thinking beyond their primary discipline in ways that enrich their professional relationships and thus the care they provide to older adults. Additional information about the curriculum. For more information contact Dr. Krista Donohoe.

PGY-2 Geriatric Pharmacy Residency

The VCU School of Pharmacy Geriatric Pharmacy Residency is a 12-month program designed to prepare the resident to provide quality care for older adults in the inpatient, outpatient, and long-term care settings. With ample opportunity for teaching and scholarly pursuits, the graduating resident will also be well-suited for a career in academia. The Residency features required rotations to establish a solid foundation of geriatric knowledge and elective rotations to meet the resident’s specific career goals. The resident schedule of activities will depend upon his/her previous experience and areas of interest. While the basic structure of the Residency is in line with the ASHP Educational Outcomes, Goals, and Objectives for PGY-2 Pharmacy Residencies in Geriatrics, not being ASHP-accredited gives us the flexibility to create a one-of-a-kind experience tailored to the resident’s individual needs. For more information contact Dr. Ogbonna

Graduate Program (MS and PhD) in Pharmacotherapy (Geriatrics focus)

We offer a graduate program in the Pharmaceutical Sciences with a track in Pharmacotherapy. Students interested in geriatrics/gerontology in this program work with faculty in the Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program to conduct dissertation research related to medications and older adults. Students undertake a curriculum including courses in research methods, statistics, pharmacotherapy, geriatrics, and gerontology to support their development as researchers in geriatric pharmacotherapy. For more information contact Dr. Patricia Slattum.