Monday, July 20, 2015

Batter Up!

I’m Ashu Randhawa, a pharmD student from University of Toronto. Over the next 5 weeks, I’m going to find myself walking the road that so many other pharmacy students have taken before here at mdBriefCase.

It’s shaping up to be a novel experience. I’ve largely had exposure to community pharmacy (with a pinch of hospital, courtesy of my latest rotation), so I’m appreciative of the learning opportunities here. The work seems simple in concept, if not so much in execution; past bloggers have implied that there’s a lot of background work that goes into writing CME. Fortunately, there’s a comprehensive, week-by-week manual and some very friendly staff to guide me through this rotation. If all goes well, you’ll be seeing an eNewsletter and medSchool For You pages from me soon!

My strongest interests in the world of healthcare lie with fitness & diet, obesity and diabetes. There’s something appealing to me about the idea that simple, consistent lifestyle choices have large effects on health. Outside of healthcare, my hobbies include fitness and console gaming.

I also really enjoy reading and writing (mostly fiction), so I’m prepared for the inevitable flow of red corrections that’ll accompany my draft work. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.

If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to send them my way. Otherwise, stay tuned for more posts!

Friday, July 17, 2015

e-Learning: An Era of Innovation

As I head into my last couple day at mdBriefCase, I reflect on how fast these past 5 weeks have gone. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience a rotation in such a unique environment, with such a great team of people. I learned a lot about medical writing and content development, but I also learned what goes into getting all of the content we see on mdBriefCase’s websites. Week by week, I was exposed to more and more pieces of the puzzle, and by the end everything made sense and came together. 

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the e-Learning Alliance of Canadian Hospital (eACH) Conference. I participated in sessions on innovations in learning and ways to engage your learner. In the spirit of the conference and my entire mdBriefCase rotation, I decided to write my last blog on the benefits and barriers to e-Learning.

The Benefits

 Healthcare professionals are required to complete several course credits every year in order to maintain their status as an active practitioner.1 This is so important because what is considered a “best practice” in the profession of healthcare can change drastically.  Traditional classroom approaches are associated with many drawbacks, such as high costs, lack of time, and failure to keep up with the quickly changing trends.1

Delivering continuing education material online eliminates all three of these drawbacks. e-Learning is a timely, remote, cost-effective way of delivering continuing education.1 It allows healthcare professionals to take courses at their own pace, whenever they can fit them into their busy schedules. It involves very low costs to setup, update, and run compared to traditional classroom-based courses.1 e-Learning can also be a more effective way of learning, incorporating many different learning styles into the delivery of the content and enabling more of an interactive learning experience.

The Barriers

The barriers mainly surround the integration of e-Learning into practice and shifting people’s mindsets from traditional styles of learning to more modern ways of learning. e-Learning challenges us to think about innovative ways to deliver content, while still being able to get the main message across. Like anything else in healthcare (and in life), implementing and undergoing change can be challenging. However, with something as big as technology, it is going to evolve over time whether we want it to or not. Look at the evolution of cell phones and computers. These devices can practically outsmart us now. 

Learning is a lifelong process, and finding new ways to deliver content to keep learners engaged is rapidly advancing, so we better get used to it!


  1. Andriotis, N. (2014). E-learning in the healthcare industry. Retrieved from:
  2. David, O., Salleh, M., & Iahad, N. The impact of E-learning in workplace: focus on organizations and healthcare environments. International Arab Journal of e-Technology. 2012; 2(4): 203-208.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Hospitals can be hazardous environments for older adults

Elderly patients are much more vulnerable to the various insults associated with hospitalization compared to their younger counterparts. Some common adverse events we see in hospitalized elders include: functional decline, delirium, undernutrition, and polypharmacy.1 It is estimated that 1 in 7 older adults experience an adverse event during their hospital stay.1 27% of these patients end up going on to develop multiple related adverse events.1 Many of these patients have a hard time recovering after they have been hit with the insults associated with hospitalization.

How are we dealing with this?

Over the past decade, hospitals in Canada have been trying to adapt their models of care to become more tailored to the needs of older adults. This is surfacing through the formation of a specialized hospital unit for geriatric patients called the Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit. ACE units focus on “recognizing the needs of acutely ill older patients and modifying common medical practices and standards to best meet these needs.”4

ACE hospital units have been shown to have many positive effects for both the hospital and the patient, including reduced costs, decreased length of stay, improvement in functional abilities, decreased need for antipsychotic drug use, reduced duration of urinary catheter use, reduced hospital readmissions, and reduced adverse events related to hospitalization.2

Where does the pharmacist fit in?

A substantial number of hospitalizations among the elderly are attributable to medications. Almost 50% of older adults who take five or more medications have been hospitalized as a result of adverse drug events, errors related to taking the wrong medication, the wrong dose of medication, or interactions between medications3. Most of these adverse events are preventable.3 Pharmacists can play a role in preventing hospital admissions by ensuring safe and efficacious medication use, promoting adherence, assessing for drug interactions and adverse drug reactions, and by providing appropriate discharge counselling so patients know what new medications they are starting and what old ones they are stopping after a hospital admission.

As the role of a pharmacist expands, physicians and patients will rely more and more on pharmacists to optimize medication management for the elderly, both in hospital and in the community. The bottom line is that there is a huge role for pharmacists to play in helping to keep older adults away from the threats of the hazardous hospital environment.


  1. Today’s geriatric medicine. (2015). ACE unit improve complex patient management. Retrieved from:
  2. Physicians Weekly. (2013). Analyzing the effect of ACE units for older people. Retrieved from:  
  3. Healthy Debate. (2014). Improving medication safety for the elderly. Retrieved from:  
  4. Accreditation Canada. (2013). Acute care for elders (ACE) unit – medicine. Retrieved from: