A Virtual PharmG Delivered Down Under in 2020

By Denise Hope

Staff and students of the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, on the Gold Coast campus of Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, were the first to bravely undertake the challenge of delivering virtually the entirety of their GIMMICS-based gamified simulation, called PharmG.

The three-week PharmG simulation was conducted in September 2020. The PharmG management team spent months preparing the various game components for digital delivery and they constructed their virtual town of Pillborough in the Microsoft Teams platform. Each of the student pharmacy teams had their own private channel in Teams and created their own customised web sites within Teams, complete with backgrounds and logos. Most of the daily communications were undertaken via Teams chat and announcements.

Unique patient cases, complete with digital identities, backgrounds and medical histories were developed in MS Teams, using SharePoint functionality. Customised dispensing templates, for prescription evaluation and patient counselling, were completed in Microsoft Forms. The daily pharmacy opening hours, and consequently the requisite number of daily prescription cases, were reduced in 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic modifications.

Despite the lack of face-to-face contact with students, PharmG delivered at least one verbal counselling case and at least one OSCE-like case live each day, using academic or pharmacist assessors visiting the pharmacies in real time via video call in MS Teams. Additional medication counselling cases were recorded online by students using MS Stream, and additional OSCE cases were completed using Big Interview, in which students could view a patient’s pre-recorded videos containing answers to the possible pharmacist questions, and students uploaded their own questions, using video cameras and microphones. Clinical cases were completed in embedded MS Forms templates and team research projects were presented using MS Sway.

Fun and engaging activities were also periodically released via MS Teams, including speed challenges for identifying medicines from their tablet or capsule images, and tasks to solve medicine names from emojis. Digitised prescription and dose administration aid checking activities were also distributed as part of the ongoing assessment. Feedback from the 2020 PharmG students was positive and suggested that the virtual game delivered the majority of intended learning outcomes, with students feeling more confident and competent for their future practice.

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