Game on! Active simulated learning in Pharmacy Education (Denise's Story) Faculty Story - View, reflect and apply

Last updated on 02/10/2019

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Game on! Active simulated learning in Pharmacy Education (Denise's Story)


Denise Hope is passionate about enabling her Pharmacy students to become capable and professional graduates through the capstone PharmG simulated active learning experience.

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Denise Hope is an experienced pharmacist and lecturer in pharmacy practice in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology at Griffith University, whose doctoral research explored Gamification of Pharmacy Education. She is passionate about enabling her students to become patient-centered, capable and professional graduates.

"We needed to create a capstone pharmacy practice course to assist final year students to develop their professional practice confidence and capabilities. Our inquiry question was: How can we best deliver a capstone practice course to meet the needs of the contemporary pharmacy graduate in a complex and technology-enhanced world?"


Denise developed the PharmG game as a capstone experience for final trimester Bachelor of Pharmacy students, providing opportunities for them to develop their confidence, capabilities and collaboration skills in a safe, engaging and immersive gamified environment.

“We created PharmG, an extended immersive face-to-face gamified simulation in order to provide an practice-rich capstone activity, delivering simulated pharmacy clinical cases scaffolded over time. The capstone nature of the game makes use of a spiral curriculum, where topics are revisited and scaffolded at increasing levels of difficulty, new learning connects to previous learning, students’ capabilities are enhanced over time. The simulation enables repeated practice in a safe space, without risk of patient harm, engaging students and provide regular specific and timely feedback on performance. By connecting real-world practice to undergraduate education we aimed to positively influence our students in their future internships and professional practice”.


“PharmG delivered outcomes that surpassed our expectations. Students had very high levels of attendance, participation and engagement. They demonstrated commitment to teamwork and improved their professional competencies across the timespan of the game. Academic staff witnessed student growth in maturity, self-reflection and clinical accuracy of tasks. The real-world experience resulted in students adopting a holistic approach to patient care which is an ideal outcome for a student on the cusp of graduation”.

“It was a very great experience and one which allowed me to develop myself both personally and professionally.” (Student)

“The PharmG was very immersive and extremely valuable.” (Student)

“Preparing us for real world practice is certainly something the whole 4008PHM course strives to do and I feel it has achieved that very well. Excellent capstone Course” (Student)

“The PharmG game was very helpful in learning to apply knowledge in real life situations. It has enhanced my confidence as a future health professional” (Student)

Enabling Technology

PharmG site:

Main Dutch website (GIMMICS):


"Management of an extended simulation game like PharmG is complex and challenging, requiring careful planning and resourcing. Establishing the simulated 'Pillborough' town requires a venue to allow for multiple pharmacies to be created, and the space must facilitate the requisite technological interface of a contemporary pharmacy, e.g. telephone, email, internet. The PharmG website, hosted by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, is regularly updated during the game with ongoing scores and information disseminated through the Pillborough Post, an online newspaper. Other information and subtle feedback is distributed to pharmacy teams via unique team email addresses".

"The capstone nature of the full-time simulation requires time-blocking of the student timetable, so that no other teaching and learning activities, or assessments, are conducted during the game. We are able to manage this as PharmG contributes 25% weighting to each of the two 20-credit point final semester BPharm courses, 4008PHM Pharmacy Practice IV and 4009PHM Integrated Pharmacotherapeutics IV. The BPharm was designed from its inception to allow for a devoted 3-week period in the final semester, to only conduct the game".

"Success of the game relies on the coordination of the daily and extended learning activities, having mapped them for scaffolding complexity and inter-connectedness throughout the time span of the simulation. Activities include daily dispensing and clinical counseling, recorded and face-to-face verbal counseling, clinical case management, recognition and resolution of medication-related problems, walk-in consumer queries, and consultations plus telephone calls. Planning and management of the human resources in the game are also crucial. People involved include numerous simulated patients (trained actors employed for specific roles), sessional staff, pharmacy academic staff, academic staff from other disciplines and volunteer pharmacist practitioners".

Next Steps

"In the cycle of reflective practice, we have reviewed the progress and outcomes of each PharmG iteration and made any changes based on participant and assessor feedback. The first year involved BPharm student teams only; the second year involved separate full-time BPharm teams and part-time Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) teams; and the third year trialed having mixed teams comprising full-time BPharm students and part-time MPharm students, in an approach to more closely reflect real-world pharmacy practice. To further improve the real-world application and nature of the game we intend to integrate more interprofessional activities and learning into future iterations of the game".

"Outcomes of the PharmG game have included dissemination of the practice to the Griffith University Interprofessional Simulation-Based Learning Advisory Committee (IPSBLAC) in 2016, international and national conference presentations on students’ development of professional competencies in the game in 2018 and 2018, and invited presentation on Extended, immersive simulation in pharmacy at Celebrating Teaching Week 2018. Multiple data streams were also collected related to PharmG to inform my dissertation research on Gamification of Pharmacy Education".

The Vice-Chancellor announced on the 1 October 2019 that Denise Hope and Associate Professor Gary Grant from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology are the winners and recipients of the "Excellence in Teaching - Group Active Learning Awards 2019".

See the full faculty story here

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Preferred Citation

Hope, D. & Learning Futures (2019). Game on! Active simulated learning in Pharmacy Education (Denise's Story). Retrieved from