UCSF

Integrated Themes

In Integrated Themes, you’ll dive deep into science and therapeutics topics from the perspective of organ systems and disease conditions. Your learning will be anchored by specific clinical conditions. For example, you’ll approach the cardiovascular theme from the perspective of myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack. Integrated themes help prepare students for patient care through the continued application of knowledge in patient cases.

Year 1 themes

  • Cardiovascular
  • Respiratory
  • Renal
  • Gastrointestinal

Year 2 themes

  • Endocrinology
  • Psychiatry and neurology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Oncology

Patient cases will ground your learning in real-world pharmacy practice. You'll progressively integrate what you learn from one organ system or disease condition theme to the next. These patient cases will become more complex as your learning progresses.

A unique inquiry approach introduced in Foundations I threads through each therapeutic theme. The skills you’ll learn in Inquiry are cornerstones in scientific thinking. You’ll learn how to identify and examine current problems in science and health care, and thoughtfully evaluate potential solutions to problems for which there are no known answers.

Integrated Themes: a closer look

Integrated Themes begin in year one and continue through the spring of year two. These themes have two distinct but highly integrated components:

1. Science and therapeutics

You’ll take a holistic approach to learning as you explore current science relevant to each theme. For example, you’ll learn about the cardiovascular system and myocardial infarction from the perspectives of the:

  • Biomedical sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pharmacology, and pharmaceutical chemistry
  • Therapeutic sciences, such as drug metabolism and clearance
  • Social, administrative, and behavioral sciences, such as pharmacy law, medication access, models of health care delivery, health policy, and health economics

Using myocardial infarction (MI) as an example, you’ll develop the knowledge and skills needed to:

  • Understand the pathophysiology of MI and recognize its symptoms
  • Triage MI patients based on their immediate health care needs
  • Recommend initial medications to treat MI and adjust current therapies as appropriate
  • Take care of MI patients in the context of their social, economic, and behavioral circumstances, and with respect to related laws, regulations, and health care policies

Again, as you learn, you’ll refer back to a patient case that builds in complexity.

2. Inquiry

Today’s body of knowledge about biology, health and disease, therapeutics, and medication use and access is constantly changing at a pace unimaginable even a decade ago.

Throughout your career, you’ll need to solve problems unheard of today. To do this, you’ll need not yesterday’s facts, but the skills to deftly ask and answer the right questions, and to think critically and scientifically.

While you hone your critical thinking skills and begin to approach learning with a scientific mindset—theme by theme—you’ll develop the:

  • Skills to critically evaluate evidence, scientific and otherwise
  • Judgement to weigh the value of different kinds of research against clinical problems and their solutions
  • Insight to recognize what evidence is missing, in order to make sound professional decisions

In other words, you’ll develop an inquiry habit of mind. You’ll eventually experience discovery firsthand while putting together a team Discovery Project to solve a problem.

Inquiry immersion

In the winter of year one, and in the spring of year two, you’ll immerse yourself for short periods of time in the topic of inquiry itself.

You’ll take a focused look at UCSF’s six domains of science and how they relate to pharmacy:

  1. Biomedical science
  2. Clinical science
  3. Education science
  4. Epidemiology and population science
  5. Social and behavioral science
  6. Systems science

You’ll come together with UCSF medical students in mini-courses that address these domains and learn about hot topics in health care and biomedical research—from LGBTQ health to bioengineered medical devices.

Insiders look at science

You’ll also hear from UCSF’s pioneering faculty members and pharmaceutical industry leaders about, for example: what’s on the horizon in science and in practice, what pressing research questions are being asked today, and what it takes to get a new drug to market. These seminars are a special part of Inquiry that expose you to new ideas and innovations at the frontier of science and patient care.