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RX-Success is a of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In Spring 2007, the partnership of North Harris Montgomery Community College District (NHMCCD), and Austin Community College (ACC) proposed to redesign a pharmacology dosage calculation course module intended to increase retention and course success for students enrolled in health-related discipline classes.

The partnership is working to redesign existing course content regarding Medication Dosage and Solutions Calculation utilizing developmental principles and contextual learning theory. The overall goal of the project is to provide a self contained module that may be utilized in a variety of courses thus expanding the capacity and intensifying the focus of the courses.

Dosage Calculation

Dosage calculation is an essential component of multiple healthcare courses. Students must master this skill to become proficient and safe practitioners in their chosen healthcare field. Failure to master this essential skill has significant consequences for the public as a result of medication errors in practice. The Institute of Medicine published a landmark paper in 2000 which focused on the 7,000 deaths that occur annually solely due to errors in medication administration. (Institute of Medicine, 2000). According to Lesar, Briceland & Stein (1997) one in six medication errors are a result of miscalculation. This is further supported by a study of Segator, Edge and Miller who found that 91% of calculation errors were conceptual in nature. Healthcare educators must not only begin to address this problematic area within the education realm but also incorporate educational techniques and methodology which will promote student retention and utilization of content well after course completion.

Dosage Calculation Instruction

Healthcare educators who instruct learners in dosage and calculations are frequently tasked to provide this essential content within the context of other healthcare classes or within pharmacology courses. Such courses typically include objectives that are broad and encompass much more than mastery of dosage and calculation.

In addition to the complexity of instruction, the classes are frequently large and little personal instruction or identification of problematic areas for the student may be realized. These courses are frequently viewed as "gatekeeper" courses within the curriculum. Students must successfully complete the course in order to progress in the healthcare education program of the students' choice.

Given the current and predicted shortage of nurses (American Nurses Association, Texas Nurses Association, 2006) and healthcare providers, it is essential that effective delivery and instructional methods be identified and implemented in order to deliver this content at the mastery level to the learner. This will not only allow the student to succeed in their educational goals but will ensure that a safe and effective healthcare worker is produced.

Project Deliverables

1. Website/Media Format with content to include student modules and faculty supplemental instructional material.

2. Downloadable content for inclusion in courses and/or programs. Modules will be available in a variety of formats so that instructors can easily access the desired content and easily incorporate the content into existing courses with little revision. Potential formats include web, CD or DVD and/or audio podcasts. In addition to instructional material, information will be provided to instructors to facilitate appropriate incorporation of content into courses based on sound instructional methodology.

3. Dissemination of final product to other community colleges in the state via website or CD. The Project Director and Consultants will collaborate to disseminate information regarding the project. This will include underlying theory and desired outcomes of course redesign, specific accomplishments, facilitators and barriers encountered and overview of final product.