The profession of a pharmacist is changing. Ten years ago, the focus was on preparing and dispensing medicine, but these days pharmacists have taken on the role of important advisors for their patients. Soft skills like cooperating, managing and communicating have become a lot more important. Pharmacy Game GIMMICS, developed at the University of Groningen, combines simulation and gamification to teach pharmacy graduates these new skills. Teacher and pharmacist Claudia Dantuma: “You can make mistakes, but you will lose credits”.
The Pharmacy Game concept is simple. At the start of the game the students are divided into two teams who will be competing against each other for five weeks. Each team runs their own (simulated) pharmacy. Each pharmacy is unique and has its own patients. Therefore, each group starts with writing a business plan and formulating its mission and vision. Once this is done, the game is on. In these pharmacies, patients will ask for advice, pharmacotherapy meetings with general practitioners take place and conversations with patients are practised. A euthanasia request is also part of the program. Tanja Fens: “We want the Pharmacy Game to reflect reality, that is why we stay closely connected to the pharmacy world, because they know what it’s like to run a pharmacy on a daily basis. The good thing is that it is quite easy to tune into that”.
Simulation has been the foundation for the game for several years now. Throughout the years, Teacher and pharmacist Claudia Dantuma, Doctor and Project leader of the Pharmacy Game Tanja Fens and Professor Pharmacotherapy and Clinical Pharmacy Katja Taxis have invested in the game’s integrity and in an upgrade of a webtool with gamification elements. Claudia Dantuma: “The addition of gamification elements like storytelling, urgency, competition, feedback and rewards is quite appealing to this target group. Research shows that the integration of gamification elements increases the motivation to learn and therefore boosts someone’s professional skills. This is what we also observe. Students really have fun learning; they experience real ownership and slowly but surely, they develop into real healthcare professionals.”
This kind of enthusiasm is contagious as these days the Pharmacy Game is used in no less than eight other universities in Europe, the UK and Australia. Tanja Fens: “What is great about this international cooperation with other universities is that it provides us with new ideas which help us to further develop our educational concept. Right now, our brand, our logo and the specific elements of our game are internationally protected in the countries where our concept is used. This is important because the other universities can use our game through a license. It is our mission to introduce the world of education to our relatively new and effective hybrid form of learning. We want to show that a combination of simulation and gamification can provide a new learning experience. For pharmacy graduates but for other students as well”.
These days, the Pharmacy Game is a household name within the University of Groningen Pharmacy Department. But for its earliest edition we need to go back to the early nineties. In those days, the Faculty of Economics & Business were already experimenting with simulation and gamification within their educational programs. This was not yet the case within the Pharmacy Department. However, a collaboration between the Economics & Business teachers and the Pharmacy teachers revealed that a simulated setting where students would find a safe environment to test their knowledge and skills, could also be an effective learning tool for Pharmacy graduate students. This collaboration led to the first edition of the Pharmacy Game, and it shows how an interdisciplinary collaboration can lead to valuable innovations within education.
Want to know more about the Pharmacy Game? Visit their website for more information.
Please contact Anne Been, Business Developer Digital Innovation at Business Generator Groningen. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Research shows that the integration of gamification elements increases the motivation to learn and therefore boosts someone’s professional skills.”
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