School of Pharmacy team receives award for their study on the use of art-based teaching strategies

22 Jul 2015
Dr Katie Ryan, Dr Suzanne McCarthy, Dr. Eileen O'Leary and Dr Christian Waeber

A dynamic group of interdisciplinary experts from the School of Pharmacy were awarded first prize in the poster presentation at The European Conference on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning that took place at UCC in June 2105. 

A collaborative effort between Dr Eileen O’ Leary (Pharmaceutical Chemistry), Dr Katie Ryan (Pharmaceutics), Dr Suzanne McCarthy (Pharmacy Practice) and Dr Christian Waeber (Pharmacology) has embedded art-based teaching strategies in the Pharmacy Curriculum. The curriculum of students in Colleges of Science and Medicine understandably emphasizes science, technology and other quantitative disciplines. However, various studies of the impact of using visual arts as a pedagogical tool in medical education suggest that such training improves both observational and empathic skills in medical students. There were however no such studies in Pharmacy education, despite the fact that pharmacists often are the patients’ first point of contact with the healthcare system. Over the last 3 years, the group have used the VTS (Visual Thinking Strategy) methodology, a College of Medicine and Health initiative introduced by Sioban Murphy, then director of the Jennings Gallery. They  introduced a series of sessions to the Pharmacy Curriculum in which they used visual arts and poetry as substrates for interpretation and discussion in order to (a) improve the students’ observation skills, (b) disrupt their expectation that problems only have a single ‘right answer’, and (c) teach them to work as a team, integrating prior and peer knowledge to interpret the content of the painting, photograph or poem. This work will be continued into the MPharm Programme and used to develop and enhance the professional and personal competencies of pharmacy students.

School of Pharmacy


Cavanagh Pharmacy Building Room UG06 University College Cork