Friday, October 10, 2014

Keeping Up-to-Date

As a pharmacy student, I am continuously learning the art of educating patients about their medications, their medical conditions, and living a healthier lifestyle. And, of course, it won’t stop when I become a pharmacist. This is a concept that I have quickly discovered at rxBriefCase.

The key to being an effective member in providing patient care is to stay up-to-date, whether it is with the help of continuing education, discussion forums, or pharmaceutical updates.

As I approach the end of my second week at rxBriefCase, I have gained an appreciation for the different avenues of accredited information available to stay up-to-date. Now, there is tremendous accessibility to programs, certification courses, and notices.

Continuing Education

Online Programs

Continuing education has been the “traditional” method of staying up-to-date. It is an integral component to advancing pharmacy practice, and being an effective member in patient care.  However, when we think of live presentations, educational seminars, or didactic courses, there are challenges like time commitment and level of interest.

In response to these challenges, many CE sites provide online programs on specific topics that only require 1-3 hours of your time. Conversely, there are programs that can take 1-3 days. Fortunately, these are individualized programs that can be saved as you go, so you are able to work at your own pace.  In addition, most of the programs include short summaries, videos, interactive questionnaires, discussion forums, and practice cases that keep the participant engaged and interested in the material. There are a variety of topics to choose from. 

While at rxBriefCase, I have completed programs on topics that I otherwise wouldn't be too excited to complete, especially if they were in the form of a 200-page guideline. The information was to the point, practical, and up-to-date. And, I knew that the material was valid because it was accredited by the Canadian Council on Continuing Education in Pharmacy (CCCEP).

Certification Courses

There are also more in-depth courses that help prepare for competency exams. Courses which cover topics such as Immunization Competencies, Diabetes Education, or Smoking Cessation that can be found on sites such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and Advancing Practice. Although this form of continuing education requires more commitment, it is definitely a way to stay up-to-date in the pharmacist’s scope of practice.

Not-so-traditional ways to stay informed

Discussion Portals

Health care professional discussion portals or forums can be a helpful outlet to learn and exercise your knowledge of a topic with your peers.  Monitored sites, like DiabetesExchange, are a source to ask questions, discuss change in guidelines, and update your knowledge on various topics.

Pharmaceutical Notification Sources

After years of faxed notifications from pharmaceutical companies, there is a more convenient method to learn about new products, recalls, and formulary changes.  Instead of faxes and face-to-face interactions with representatives, there are online sources that will notify you via email or on their site so you are aware of any changes in the pharmaceutical industry. 

For example, there are sites such as PharmacyNow and RxNow that allow you to search their archive of updates at your convenience versus waiting on a fax or searching the internet for a reliable answer.  Although these online resources are reliable and helpful, there is room for improvement in the format to make them more user-friendly. Regardless, there are options to stay up-to-date efficiently.

These avenues may not be not be classified as “traditional” continuing education, but in order to stay up-to-date in all aspects of pharmacy, whether that be counselling, dispensing, or expanded scope of practice, we need to rely on multiple reliable sources of information.

The perfect fit for you!

The information sources I have mentioned are unique and highly applicable in pharmacy practice, but there are many more sources available that provide similar information in different formats and on different platforms to different healthcare professionals. Ultimately, the purpose is to apply the most current information to the care we provide. Therefore, it is just a matter of figuring out the perfect fit you.