Using daily newspapers to develop professional literacy – a descriptive study
College of Pharmacy, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar
Background: An orientation to the professional landscape is necessary for novices of any health discipline. We describe an assignment aimed to develop the professional literacy of pharmacy students within their local Middle Eastern context.
Methods: “Pharmacy and Health Care” is a course designed to introduce first-year students to both historic and contemporary pharmacist roles and responsibilities and to the position of pharmacy within a health care system. An assignment asked students to identify a health-related article recently reported by one of the domestic newspapers in order to exhibit the students’ ability to conceptualize how pharmacists fit into the described health context.
Results: The exercise was assigned over three consecutive academic years. A majority of the students (36/60; 60%) chose articles reported in one of the three English-language dailies; stories were primarily characterized as Qatar health-related current events or news items (44/60; 73%). The pharmacy students felt the assignment encouraged reading and an appreciation of current pharmacist roles and future opportunities in Qatar health care.
Conclusion: A newspaper assignment designed to develop professional literacy would be of benefit in early training years in health care professional degree programs elsewhere in the world; the result would orient students to expected positions in local health care settings and would help envision role expansion.
Keywords: pharmacy, health professional education, newspaper
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