Background: Adverse drug reactions are a leading cause of death in the United States. Safe and effective management of complex medication regimens is a skill for which recent medical school graduates may be unprepared when they transition to residency. We wished to assess the impact of a medication safety curriculum on student competency when evaluating medication therapeutic appropriateness as well as evaluate students' ability to transfer curricular material to management of patients in clinical settings. Methods: To prepare 3rd and 4th year medical students to critically evaluate medication safety and appropriateness, we developed a medication reconciliation/optimization curriculum and embedded it within a Patient-Centered Medical Home longitudinal elective. This curriculum is comprised of a medication reconciliation workshop, in-class and individual case-based assignments, and authentic patient encounters in which medication management skills are practiced and refined. Pre- and post-course competency and skills with medication reconciliation/optimization are evaluated by assessing student ability to identify and resolve medication-related problems (MRPs) in case-based assignments using paired difference tests. A group of students who had wished to enroll in the elective but whose schedule did not permit it, served as a comparison group. Results: Students completing the curriculum (n = 45) identified 75 % more MRPs in case assignments compared to baseline. No changes from baseline were apparent in the comparison group. Enrolled students were able to transfer their skills to the care of authentic patients; these students identified an average of 2.5 MRPs per patient from a panel of individuals that had recently transitioned from hospital to home. Moreover, patient questionnaires (before and several months following the medication encounters with assigned students) indicated that patients felt more knowledgeable about several medication parameters as a result of the student-led medication encounter. Patients also indicated that students helped them overcome barriers to medication adherence (e.g. cost, transportation, side effects). Conclusions: Novice learners may have difficulty transitioning from knowledge of basic pharmacology facts to application of that information in clinical practice. Our curriculum appears to bridge that gap in ways that may positively impact patient care.
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