Exploring the Use and Opinions of Digital Communication in Student Pharmacists

Primary author: Pari Iverson
Co-author(s): Maggie Godsey; Arliegh Cayanan
Faculty sponsor: Dr. Jennifer Robinson

Primary college/unit: College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Campus: Spokane


Background: Digital communication is any form of communication that is written word. In-person communication includes face-to-face conversations, video chats, and phone calls. This study was focused on the differences in technical aspects of communication such as wording, phrasing, and tone when delivered digitally versus in-person. Additionally, emotional aspects of communication were explored as well. These aspects included anxiety related to each type of communication, fear of miscommunication, or being perceived as unprofessional.

Results: On a pre-course survey, 60% of students identified that the statement, “I sometimes worry that my digital communications will be perceived negatively (angry, sarcastic, annoyed, etc.) even though that is not my intent” either describes them or often describes them while on a post-course survey, 70% of students responded that the statement describes or often describes them. For the following statement, “When speaking with a peer face-to-face, I rely on the actual words I’m saying to convey the message I am trying to send”, 27% students responded that this statement describes them on a pre-course survey whereas on a post-course survey 43% students identified that this statement describes them.

Conclusions: Following the educational intervention, the number of students who were concerned that their communications would be perceived negatively regardless of their intent increased by 10%. This indicates that the educational intervention was effective in demonstrating to student pharmacists the importance of tone and wording when communicating digitally. Additionally, students recognized the importance of the actual words that they say when communicating face-to-face with their peers.