Tier 3: Case Study

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School of Pharmacy Modifies Curriculum to Improve Access to the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program

In 2019, a community-minded developer built a grocery store in a low-income food desert in Richmond, Virginia. The developer recognized that the neighborhood would also benefit from a community education center that focused on healthy lifestyles. The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health Hub was created to meet this need and included service offerings from multiple university departments.

To support these efforts, the VCU School of Pharmacy drew on its past experience providing diabetes education and type 2 diabetes prevention classes to people with limited access to clinical or community resources. The school partnered with the VCU Health Dietetic Internship Program to offer the National DPP LCP. Teams of dietetic interns and pharmacy residents lead weekly classes, as well as grocery store tours, cooking classes, and physical education programs.

Tier 3 in Action: Offer the National DPP LCP

Smiling nurse holding file

VCU also adapted its Health Promotion and Communication in Pharmacy Practice course to include elements of the National DPP Lifestyle Coach training. This mandatory first-year course in VCU’s PharmD program already contained much of the required content, such as motivational interviewing, social determinants of health, health literacy, communication with older adults, and smoking cessation.

Merging the two curricula helped students understand how the healthy lifestyle content applies in the real world. Students also received their National DPP Lifestyle Coach designation at the end of the semester.

Feedback from the first class of 102 students indicated that the program had met its goals. More Lifestyle Coaches were trained, which helped expand access to the National DPP LCP. Students were paired with individual participants to provide experiential learning for the students and improve program retention.

Keys to Success

Results at a Glance

From 2019 to 2022, the program reported that:

  • 356 Lifestyle Coaches were trained.
  • 90 community members
  • 298 pounds were lost.
  • After pairing students with participants, retention doubled from the first cohort to the fourth cohort.

To ensure the success and sustainability of its efforts, the VCU School of Pharmacy:

  • Integrated Lifestyle Coach training into its PharmD core curriculum.
  • Created an interprofessional partnership with VCU’s dietetic internship program to lead the National DPP LCP.
  • Paired pharmacy students with participants to serve as individual Lifestyle Coaches between sessions, to increase retention.
  • Expanded National DPP LCP capacity by training pharmacy students to serve as Lifestyle Coaches.