Supporting Collaborative Practice to Encourage Consistency and Accuracy in the Classroom: An Interdepartmental Curricular Alignment


Ann Witham
Jennifer Ellis


Teaching pharmacology requires innovative strategies to promote student learning, achievement of outcomes, and life-long learning principles in undergraduate nursing education (Barkhouse-MacKeen & Murphy 2013). In a concept-based curriculum, Pharmacology is often interwoven into many concepts and exemplars that are taught across all courses by various faculty and departments. This creates differences in how the material is presented and variability in what is provided to students.  Another related challenge is the siloed approach to higher education, where different departments maintain strict control over their curriculum even when the content and the students are shared across departments. With the major role nurses play in medication administration and assessment of medication effects, it is key that Nursing students have a strong foundation in Pharmacology, and that those involved in teaching it understand the entire student experience as far as how this content is introduced and reinforced in their course of study. This article will review the collaborative process of the curricular review that was conducted to support nursing students’ pharmacology experience. Pharmacology is an important element of a nursing student’s education as Pharmacology counts for 12-18% of the 2019 National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) Test Plan.  Deficits in knowledge impact NCLEX pass rates and students’ ability to work as registered nurses. In addition, errors related to medication administration can result in patient injury and death. To address these issues at a two-year associate degree nursing program, a collaboration between the Nursing Department and Biology Department faculty was established to assess nursing faculty comfort level with Pharmacology, to increase Biology Pharmacology instructors’ understanding of the NCLEX, and to share best practices in teaching Pharmacology with Nursing faculty. This article will review the steps of the collaboration, including best practices and pitfalls, and share insights that support the development of similar collaborations at other institutions to support student learning when there are multiple academic units involved in their program of study.