, Volume 62, Issue 3, pp 224–229 | Cite as

Innovating Pharmacy Curriculum through Backward Design

  • Bradley M. Wright
  • Lori Hornsby
  • Karen F. Marlowe
  • Julaine Fowlin
  • Daniel W. Surry
Original Paper


This paper is a description of a curriculum development process used by a pharmacy school to redesign its Doctor of Pharmacy program to meet the changing demands of the profession and to comply with new accreditation standards. The goal of the redesigned curriculum was to produce “practice-ready” graduates who were able to enter the profession with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in an increasingly team-based, complex, diverse, and evolving field. The school deviated from stand-alone courses with a discipline specific focus to a series of integrated learning experiences. The Backward Design framework was utilized to organize the curriculum revision efforts. The school began by outlining a vision of the profession of pharmacy for the coming decade. Based on that vision, the school determined 10 broad domains in which an entry-level pharmacist should be competent. Each domain was broken down into ability-based outcomes and further into competencies. The competencies were prioritized, mapped, and spiraled across the learning experiences within the curriculum combining the skills and knowledge from multiple areas of pharmacy education, content areas, and practice settings.


Pharmacy education Curriculum design Innovation Accreditation standards Competencies 



Many people significantly contributed to the design of the Practice-Ready Curriculum. Of the many people who have worked tirelessly to support the curricular revision, Dr. Lee Evans, former Dean of the School, and Dr. Richard Hansen, the current Dean, deserve special mention for their outstanding leadership. Dr. Tim Moore, Chair of the Department of Drug Discovery and Development, and Dr. Channing Ford, Assistant Director, Office of Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, also contributed throughout the process in vital ways from the beginning. In addition, the Faculty of the Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy have adopted this process and begun to transform the school’s PharmD curriculum into the Practice-Ready Curriculum.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications & Technology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bradley M. Wright
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lori Hornsby
    • 1
    • 3
  • Karen F. Marlowe
    • 4
  • Julaine Fowlin
    • 1
  • Daniel W. Surry
    • 1
  1. 1.Auburn University Harrison School of PharmacyAuburnUSA
  2. 2.UAB School of Medicine – Huntsville CampusHuntsvilleUSA
  3. 3.Columbus Regional Health, Outpatient ClinicColumbusUSA
  4. 4.Auburn University Harrison School of PharmacyMobileUSA

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