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INTRODUCTION

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As health care becomes more and more complex in the 21st century, the health professional student is increasingly challenged to learn a rapidly expanding amount of information as well as necessary skills to apply that knowledge in a patient care setting. Students of pharmacotherapy quickly learn that the field is rapidly changing as our knowledge of human disease evolves and new drugs are developed to improve patient outcomes. Students also learn that while drug therapy can have tremendous beneficial effects on patient outcomes, such therapy also has the potential to cause harm. The "art" of pharmacotherapy is in applying knowledge and making therapeutic decisions that are most likely to have maximum positive benefit for a specific patient. As a companion book to Pharmacotherapy Principles and Practice, 3rd ed. (PPP), this Study Guide is designed to assist the student in learning to apply didactic knowledge to specific patient situations. Such application requires skills that cannot be learned in lectures or in other passive learning situations, but must be learned by practice and repetition. The more students practice applying their knowledge, using their patient assessment skills, and making therapeutic decisions in their preclinical courses, the more prepared they will be to apply these skills to real patients in their clinical rotations.

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This Study Guide is more than a book of patient cases, but it uses patient cases to help students learn to apply pharmacotherapeutic knowledge and skills. Case-based learning is not a new concept in health sciences curricula. As a form of active learning, case-based learning allows the student to practice the skills necessary to provide patient care. The focus of the cases in this Study Guide is, of course, pharmacotherapeutics. A unique feature of this study guide is the expectation that the student will develop a pharmacotherapy care plan as the "output" for each case. What follows is a general discussion of the patient care process and then specific information regarding the use of the Study Guide and development of the pharmacotherapy care plan.

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PHARMACEUTICAL CARE AND THE PATIENT CARE PROCESS

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Most pharmacy students are taught about pharmaceutical care early in their pharmacy curriculum. Pharmaceutical care, first described in the late 1980s and early 1990s,1 can be summarized as "… patient-centered practice in which the practitioner assumes responsibility for a patient's drug-related needs and is held accountable for this commitment."2 Although the definition of pharmaceutical care does not explicitly state that pharmacists are to perform these tasks, many feel that pharmaceutical care is the central mission of the pharmacy profession.

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Although it may seem obvious that health professionals practice in a patient-centered way, all too often practi-tioners become distracted by technical or administrative tasks. Pharmacy students, after graduation, commit to patient-centered practice in the Oath of a Pharmacist3:

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I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to ...

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