Monday, June 16, 2014

So You’ve Graduated. What’s Next? Continuing Education and Recent Graduates

As this is my last blog post before I leave rxBriefCase for my next pharmacy placement, I wanted to speak about something that would benefit my colleagues – new graduates.

You’re a new pharmacy graduate. The first thing that probably pops into your head is, “Yes! I never have to sit through another lecture or exam again!” You’re anxious and excited to enter the real world. But little do you know, something essential is there waiting for you, waiting to help you excel in the grown-up world, or even to stop you from crashing and burning. That ‘something’ is the thing that you thought you had kicked, tossed, buried deep in the soil, and said your peace with – education.

There is a trend towards participation in Continuing Education in new graduates within 2 years post-graduation1. As a pharmacy student working in many different areas of pharmacy practice, I am constantly finding myself looking to sources of education to augment my learning. In practice, my colleagues and I have learned to expect the unexpected. Finding the tools to be prepared for each day becomes vital.

The ‘graduation-induced amnesia’ phenomenon. I’m sure this has happened to you at least once (probably more) before. This phenomenon is a large-scale version of what happens after each exam you write, when all the information you’ve “learned” in the weeks or months before the sitting just magically seeps out of your brain. Well, this is not good for someone who’s about to enter the workforce. This is probably the reason why more and more graduates are participating in CE programs. Depending on the program, it can serve as a quick refresher on topics you haven’t seen in a while, or an in-depth review of a topic you happened to fall asleep in class that day.

Transitioning from theory to practice. As a new graduate, chances are, you simply don’t have as much experience as someone who’s been out in the workforce for a while and it can be quite daunting to channel massive amounts of information into actual patient care. There are various CE courses that can benefit a new graduate from teaching communication skills to effectively counsel patients in difficult situations (such as the Mood Disorders: Counselling Patients Suffering from Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder program) to pharmacy management skills, building confidence as a new pharmacist.

Keeping updated in the pharmacy world. The medical world is constantly changing and we all need a way to adapt to it. With new medications on the market, we need to be kept in the loop. An example is knowing what the difference between the new oral anticoagulants and warfarin means to your patient (see New Oral Anticoagulants: Addressing Pharmacist Challenges).

Opening new doors. Increasing your knowledge and skill set can put you ahead of the game to secure work, especially in saturated job markets. Even if you’re confident, think you know your stuff, and even have good work experience, it never hurts to learn something new. It may spark an interest that you never knew you had or you may learn a new skill that can further your career, like managing your own pharmacy.

It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It seems that the older you get, the less likely you are to go back to school. However, data shows that the time spent on informal learning (can be done anywhere at any time) by older adults is not all that different from middle-aged adults2.  So, start when you’re a new grad and continue until you’re an old grad! Learning is a life-long journey.

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  1. Adamuti-Trache, M. (2009, March). Further education pathways and employment patterns of Canadian university graduates. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from Canadian Council on Learning:
  2. D.W. Livingstone, M. R. (2013). Adult Learning Trends in Canada: Basic Findings of the WALL 1998, 2004 and 2010 Surveys. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from Wall Network: