How does a drug court experience influence student pharmacists?

Laura C Palombi, Ashley Fike, Clement Chang, Tim Stratton, Cynthia Koh-Knox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Introduction: Drug court is a highly structured, community-based criminal justice alternative to imprisonment and probation that incorporates chemical dependency treatment for offenders with a substance abuse diagnosis. Drug court provides a unique learning experience for pharmacy students. Methods: Students from Purdue University College of Pharmacy and the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy participated in drug court and provided written reflections regarding their experiences. Analysis of reflections explored how students’ life experiences might be associated with their understanding of substance use disorder, and how the drug court experience might impact students’ attitudes regarding substance use disorder as well as professional and personal development. Results: Consensual qualitative analysis of student pharmacist reflections of the drug court experience led to eleven distinct themes: description of the student experience at drug court; past experiences and exposures; past perceptions and judgments; stereotype deconstruction; empathy development; development of impartiality and fair-minded approach; situational appreciation; analytical thinking; role of the pharmacist; metacognition; and science of substance use disorder. Discussion: Colleges of pharmacy wishing to provide students with an opportunity for personal and professional development focused on substance use disorder and recovery should explore experiential learning opportunities in drug court settings. Conclusions: The drug court experience allows student pharmacist learners to gain a deeper personal understanding of substance use disorder while examining their own biases. Students reported that this experience challenges them to rethink notions of “good” and “bad” and reflect on personal preconceived views about substance use disorder and morality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1331-1341
Number of pages11
JournalCurrents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge and thank the Tippecanoe and Carlton County Drug Court teams for their willingness to welcome student pharmacists as contributing members of the drug court team. The authors do not have any competing or conflicts of interest or relationships to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Inc.


  • Addiction
  • Bias
  • Consensual qualitative research
  • Problem-solving courts
  • Stigma
  • Substance use disorder


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