University of Pittsburgh


Combined Clinical Years

Clinical Pharmacology (MED 5710)

4 weeks

Stevan P. Tofovic, MD, PhD

Course Director
Stevan P. Tofovic, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Medicine


Course Description

This integrated course program consists of five overlapping components: General Clinical Pharmacology, Rational Drug Prescribing, Evidence-Based Pharmacotherapy, Disease-Specific Clinical Topics, and Workshops for Special Attention Topics.

General Clinical Pharmacology emphasizes the principles of individualization of drug therapy and covers the following relevant topics: pharmacogenetics, drug use in liver and renal disease, drugs in special populations (the neonate and infant, the pregnant and elderly), drug interactions, adverse drug reactions, and therapeutic drug monitoring.

The Rational Drug Prescribing component prepares students to develop a personal formulary through a series of lectures and workshops. This component consists of lectures under the theme "How to Prepare You Own Personal Formulary." In addition, during the workshop on practical aspects of prescribing, the legal and practical aspects of prescribing and the factors that may affect rational prescribing are discussed.

The Evidence-Based Pharmacotherapy component consists of a lecture on critical appraisal of literature in pharmacotherapy, a working lunch workshop on drug promotion, and a workshop on medical controversies. The Disease-Specific Clinical Topics component addresses the clinical pharmacology of common disorders. Selected topics reflect medical considerations and situations seen most commonly in routine medical practice (the rational pharmacotherapy of hypertension, ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, asthma, epilepsy, renal disorders, psychiatric disorders, peptic ulcer disease and infectious diseases).

Workshops for the Special-Attention Topics component consist of lectures in the morning and 2-hour case discussion sessions in the afternoon. Special attention topics include pharmcokinetics, toxicology, and pain treatment.

This course satisfies the Integrated Life Science course requirement.

The goals of the course are for students to:

  1. learn to apply the principles of clinical pharmacology and rational pharmacotherapy in clinical practice.
  2. develop skills and attitudes needed to recognize and avoid irrational prescribing.

Additional goals are for students to develop:

  1. an understanding of the principles of individualization of drug therapy.
  2. a knowledge of the rational pharmacotherapy of diseases and medical conditions most commonly seen in routine medical practice.
  3. the skills and attitudes needed to evaluate drug therapy regimens and to participate in therapy decision-making.

Educational Methods


Small group sessions Discussions of cases and current articles Problem-based learning Computer- assisted learning
Lectures Quizzes Workshops    


There is no patient contact or on-call responsibility. The course schedule typically includes 4 classroom days each week with time allocated for self-directed learning. Weekly quizzes provide students with an opportunity to assess their learning throughout the course.


Evaluation for this course is based on four weekly quizzes and a final multiple-choice examination. Students who receive satisfactory grades on the quizzes will not have to take the final examination.

Grading is satisfactory / unsatisfactory.

Faculty Note

Course Director Stevan P. Tofovic, MD, PhD, and James Johnston, MD, are recipients of the Kenneth E. Schuit Master Educator Award. Peter Veldkamp, MD, MS is a recipient of the Clerkship Preceptor of the Year Award. In addition, Drs. Tofovic, Johnston, and Veldkamp are members of the UPSOM Academy of Master Educators.