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Around the World 

Breaking Down Borders

A new online tool aims to transform pharmacy education by allowing educators to work together and share resources worldwide.  

By Jane E. Rooney

Ever wished you could get input from pharmacists throughout the country—or around the world? What if you could share an idea that might help your colleagues near and far? A new educational Web site, developed by the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University in Australia, is making that type of global communication and collaboration possible. SABER, which stands for Sharing and Building Education Resources, provides a single place to share resources and ideas with like-minded people who are committed to improving pharmacy education and better health outcomes for everyone. Members include many universities and pharmacy associations representing more than 25 countries.

SABER has three components: discover, contribute and collaborate. High-quality, best-practice resources are shared from various institutions for the benefit of students and educators throughout the world. Resources are freely available to the pharmacy and pharmaceutical science community. Users can find specialists or peers, invite people to join, and set up project sites. With ongoing commitment and contributions from pharmacy education leaders, the repository focuses on collaboration through the sharing of teaching resources. It also focuses on supporting pharmacy schools in developing countries by providing resources that assist the healthcare profession.

A Toolkit for Success

Shared resources on SABER mainly consist of curriculum tools and content. The site categorizes resources by material type into one of the following:

  • Building blocks—small assets such as images, 3D models or code snippets;
  • Presentations/lectures—PowerPoint and other presentations, as well as support materials;
  • Reference materials—conference proceedings, guides to legislative and professional rules and so forth;
  • Case studies;
  • Workshops and training—mostly video material;
  • Collections—primarily themed groups of images; or
  • Assessments—exam question ideas, multiple choice questions and so forth.

“The focus of SABER is very much on providing the tools that support sharing, collaboration and community building,” said Keith Sewell, project developer. “SABER is not just about leveraging advances in technology, but importantly it canvasses a culture of openness and the sharing of resources within a global pharmacy community.”

SABER also provides a platform for raising awareness about MyDispense, which is software developed by Monash University that uses virtual patients to help students build skills and confidence in dispensing, communication and patient care. The Web-based application supports a total dispensing experience, from initial communication with the patient and prescriber to professional advice when handing medicines to patients. The application features a dispensing system with many features of commercial dispensing programs to give students an authentic experience in modern dispensing practice. At the end of each exercise, students receive detailed feedback on their dispensing performance.

Interested SABER members are given access to a demonstration of MyDispense so they can test it out. Monash is working with partners to develop versions of the software for the United Kingdom and the United States. According to Sewell, the next version of MyDispense will allow instructors to export and import exercises, which can then be shared on SABER.

Jane E. Rooney is a freelance writer based in Oakton, Virginia.

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