Change Process

Mt. Tamalpais
© David Powers

The work of envisioning, designing, developing in detail, piloting, assessing, and fully implementing the coursework for the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum for 2018 and beyond is moving forward in phases, which began in 2013.

Strategic foundation (2013–2015)

In January 2013, the faculty voted to endorse the need for curriculum change.

Before a January 2014 Schoolwide strategic planning retreat, an education work group of faculty members carefully reviewed the School of Pharmacy’s current PharmD curriculum and the changing health care and education environments. They posed questions for the faculty to consider in developing education goals for the School’s five-year strategic plan.

This presentation and the faculty discussions that followed initiated the process of curriculum transformation and led to the inclusion of Theme 2: Education in the School’s plan, Leading Change: Strategic Course 2015–2020, which the full faculty voted to accept in spring 2015.

Vision for curriculum (2014)

Under the leadership of Vice Dean Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH, and with School education leaders, the School held a curriculum visioning retreat in June 2014, with broad representation from UCSF School of Pharmacy faculty; all three UCSF sister schools in medicine, dentistry, and nursing; the physical therapy program; the UCSF Medical Center; pharmacy students and alumni; volunteer faculty members representing local health systems, community pharmacy, and the pharmaceutical industry; and Dean’s Office administrators.

Participants considered the current and anticipated changes in the health care landscape, continuing and emerging roles for pharmacists in the context that landscape, and the characteristics that new graduates will need for these roles. Two broad conclusions emerged from the retreat:

  • The new curriculum will be innovative and evidence-based.
  • The process of transformation will be collaborative and transparent.

Design of blueprint (2014–2015)

DRIVE and Design Work Groups

In summer 2014, the School began to form and implement a structure for designing a curriculum blueprint. A central faculty group, the DRIVE Team (Design, Resource, Integration, Visioning, Execution) formed in October 2014, which oversaw three Design Work Groups that subsequently formed and began working in December 2014:

  • Frontiers in Science and Practice of Therapeutics
  • Core Science and Practice of Therapeutics
  • Experiential Science and Practice

Faculty members from the three departments in the UCSF School of Pharmacy, faculty members from the UCSF School of Medicine, and colleagues from the UCSF Medical Center and the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Health Care System were recruited by Youmans to serve on the Design Work Groups.


The activities of DRIVE and the Design Work Groups were led by Youmans; any policy decisions were made by the Educational Policy Committee of the School’s Faculty Council.


DRIVE and the Design Work Groups identified targets for the 21st century therapeutics expert and used curricular design principles to determine the appropriate content and methods for achieving these targets.


During this phase, DRIVE and the Design Work Groups developed a curricular blueprint for a three-year program for buildout in the development phase. They also developed curriculum and implementation plans and associated curricular details.

Initial development of details and pilots (2015–2016)

Faculty endorsement: blueprint and systems block

The three-year curriculum blueprint and integrated systems block format were endorsed by the faculty in June 2015 and January 2016, respectively.

Initial Pilots

Beginning in fall 2015 and continuing throughout the development of curriculum details, pilot projects for new authentic experiences will be created and tested, as will new pedagogical methods.

Three initial curriculum pilots launched in fall quarter 2015 through spring quarter 2016:

  • Frontiers in Science Seminar: fall quarter 2015, spring quarter 2016
  • Clinical Microsystems Clerkships: winter quarter 2016, spring quarter 2016
  • Longitudinal Community Pharmacy IPPE: winter quarter 2016, spring quarter 2016

Curriculum Transformation Team

In May 2016, after the DRIVE Team and Design Work Groups completed their work, a Curriculum Transformation Team (CTT) was appointed by Youmans from among faculty members who applied for committee positions. The CTT was charged with developing the details of the curriculum, using the blueprint and integrated systems block format previously endorsed by the School’s faculty. Area directors and co-directors are currently heading the detailed development of the curriculum in these four areas:

  1. Inquiry Immersion/Student Depth Project
  2. Experiential Education
  3. Enhanced Clinical and Scientific Training
  4. Integrated Systems Block Curriculum


Curriculum buildout continued

With the full engagement of the new Curriculum Transformation Team, naming of all course directors and a principal director to oversee all Integrated Themes, the detailed development of each course proceeded.

In the case of Integrated Themes, a course template helped directors align their work from one theme to the next. The concepts to be woven among all Integrated Themes were clarified. The structure and needed elements of the Foundations course, the Applied Patient Care Skills Course, and the Inquiry thread evolved quickly.

Messaging consistently applied

Explanation of the new curriculum was clarified with the adoption of shared terminology and the application of a shared positioning and messaging platform.

Operations planning accelerated

The buildup of support and services for the new curriculum—from student recruitment and advising to educational technologies and systems—ramped up with new programs, processes, and the addition of new staff members.


Curriculum Buildout and Operations Continue

The faculty and staff are fully engaged with the curriculum build, in particular with completing the development of coursework for year one and the framework required to support it and the students.

The Foundations course is now developed, as are course details of the initial Science and Therapeutics threads.

A comprehensive content and readiness retreat is being planned for the early spring, to ensure complete integration of the first set of courses.

Faculty votes

The faculty adopts, by formal vote, the three-year curriculum beginning with the class entering in 2018, and retires the current four-year curriculum with the last class graduating in 2021.

The faculty also adopts, by formal vote, a pass/no pass grading system, and retires the current grading system with graduation of the last “pathway” in 2021


Admissions offers go out to applicants to the new curriculum.


(progress to come)