Zubin Austin

Professor
Ontario College of Pharmacists Research Professor in Pharmacy Practice

Educational Research in the Health Professions

Educational research focuses on the ways in which individuals learn and develop throughout their lifetimes. Drawing upon theory and research methods in psychology, sociology, computer science and other disciplines, educational researchers in the health professions work to understand the ways in which knowledge, skills, and attitudes are acquired by both students and practitioners. Results of educational research are used by curriculum planners and administrators, continuing education providers, health professions regulators, and policy makers to improve the quality of teaching and learning. Educational research in health professions must focus on the unique, complex, and high-stakes nature of health care professionals' work. Using qualitative and quantitative research methods, a variety of important questions may be addressed. Current research interests include:

  • Bridging education programs for foreign-trained professionals seeking licensure in Canada
  • Development of professional identity among pharmacy students
  • Maintenance of professional competency
  • Influence of peer groups on learning and professional practice

Professor Zubin Austin has been either a student or teacher at the University of Toronto continuously since 1984, earning two bachelors degrees, three masters degrees and a PhD during this time. Since 1994, he has worked full-time at the Faculty of Pharmacy, as a lecturer and senior lecturer, and most recently as professor and inaugural holder of the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) Professorship in Pharmacy Practice.

Professor Austin is an award winning educator and researcher. He has received the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada/Bristol Myers Squibb Excellence in Pharmacy Education award, the Government of Ontario’s Leadership in Faculty Teaching (LIFT) award, and the Faculty of Pharmacy’s Teacher of the Year award on seven separate occasions. His research in pharmacy education has been widely cited and recognized. In 2006 he received the prestigious American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Lyman Award for the best scholarly work in pharmacy education, only the second non-American to win this award. In 2007 he was once again recognized by the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada with the Astra-Zeneca Young Researcher Award. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the health education literature, and has an extensive record of invited presentations at international meetings.

Within the pharmacy community, Professor Austin is widely recognized for his work in improving the quality of teaching, at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels. He has worked closely with the OCP, the Ontario Pharmacists Association, the Canadian Pharmacists’ Association and the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists in developing programs to improve the quality of clinical teaching of pharmacy students and enhance the provision of patient care by pharmacists. He has developed continuing education programs for pharmacists to improve their skills as educators. In addition he has implemented faculty development programs for university-based educators from across North American to improve the quality of clinical skills education. At the University of Toronto, he has been Chair of the Undergraduate pharmacy curriculum committee for 9 years, and a member of many other committees and groups across campus dedicated to improving the quality of teaching and learning.

Professor Austin’s innovations in education and instructional design have been adopted world-wide. As Principal Investigator in the International Pharmacy Graduate (IPG) Program, Professor Austin led development of one of the first bridging-education programs for internationally educated health professionals seeking licensure in Canada. Components of this program included language training and assessment, clinical skills development, and mentorship to foster professional enculturation. Elements of this program have been adopted by similar programs now offered at the University of British Columbia, the Bredin Institute (Alberta), the University of Florida, and the University of Manchester. He has developed reflective self-assessment instruments such as the Pharmacists’ Inventory of Learning Styles (PILS) which is currently used in over 30 schools of pharmacy in the US and as part of the American Council for Pharmaceutical Education’s Continuing Professional Development program for American pharmacists. The PILS has been used with pharmacy students and practitioners in the UK, Iran, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Netherlands.

Professor Austin has begun work in the area of inter-professional education. As co-investigator in the IMPACT (integrating family Medicine and Pharmacy to Advance primary Care Therapeutics) project, Professor Austin developed the “Family Health Simulator,” a full-day simulation of primary care in which real physicians, nurses, and pharmacists work with standardized patients through a variety of exercises designed to teach and assess collaborative competencies. He is also principal investigator in a Health Canada funded project to develop a 10-week national program (offered in six sites across Canada) for internationally educated pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, medical radiation therapists and medical laboratory technologists to teach teamwork/collaboration in the Canadian health care system.

Throughout his academic career – whether as student or teacher - Professor Austin has demonstrated his commitment to teaching, learning, and personal and professional development. For 14 years, he has been an admired and respected educator in the pharmacy and health professions communities, engaging students (undergraduate, graduate, practitioners and internationally educated) and inspiring them find pleasure in the act of learning. As his own academic record indicates, he simply likes to learn. For Professor Austin, the greatest success a teacher can have is when students discover that pleasure for themselves.

Publications at PubMed for Zubin Austin

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto
144 College Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3M2
Tel: 416-978-0186
Fax: 416-978-8511
Email: zubin.austin@utoronto.ca