Simulated learning for generic communication competency development: a case study of Australian post-graduate pharmacy students

Michelle Barker, Jasmina Fejzic, Anita S. Mak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Authentic workplace experience is becoming increasingly challenging to provide for students. Simulation represents an effective pedagogical strategy for communication competency development in preparation for, or in lieu of clinical placements/practicums. The case study represents an innovative approach to simulating aspects of a pharmacy practice when insufficient placements were available. Prior to undertaking a three-week placement, a cohort of Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) students (N = 95) completed two four-hour simulated learning modules (SLMs). Each of the six SLMs addressed interpersonally challenging, commonly experienced pharmacy practice scenarios generated by pharmacists/pharmacy educators. Scenarios, underpinned by the Excellence in Cultural Experiential Learning and Leadership (EXCELL) model, included schemas called Social Interaction Maps (SIMs), and involved interacting with trained actors. EXCELL is an evidence-based, professional development resource centred on learning generic social competencies including participating in a team, refusing a request and giving feedback. Evaluations comprised students’ survey responses collected before, during and after SLM workshops and pharmacy placements, and reflections from workshop facilitators. Students reported significant improvements in their overall communication competencies post-workshops and post-placement. Facilitators rated SLMs as a useful strategy to improve students’ communication competence and workplace readiness. Future curriculum development could benefit from including discipline-specific, interpersonally challenging SLMs using SIMs and actors (where possible) to simulate workplace interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1123
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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