Tuesday, March 29, 2016

School’s not out: The value of continuing education

My experience at mdBriefCase allowed me to explore and evaluate the importance of continuing the pursuit of professional knowledge, even after graduation. By investing in educational programs and opportunities, health professionals obtain up-to-date knowledge and skills, and are able to provide the best patient care.1 Continuing education (CE) ensures that the best evidence is known, understood and practiced by health professionals.2  

CE is also effective at improving patient outcomes, which naturally leads to greater patient satisfaction.2 Pharmacists can use the knowledge and skills acquired through participation in CE courses to expand their pharmacy practice and to enhance patient care.

My experience stretched beyond an appreciation of the continuing education materials produced at mdBriefCase. This placement was a learning experience in itself: learning about the broad range of opportunities, such as medical writing, that are available to pharmacists upon graduation. It emphasized the importance of searching available options, in whatever stage of your career, and pursuing the one or two (if not more!) in which you are interested. Regardless of the path we choose to pursue as pharmacists, one thing is certain: keeping up-to-date with new knowledge and skills is essential to enhance our level of patient care and excel as health care providers.


Continuing education for health professionals. WHO. (2016). Accessed March 28, 2016 http://www.who.int/genomics/professionals/education/en/

The Benefit of Continuing Education (CE) to Patients and the Public. Alliance for CE in the Health Professions. Accessed March 28, 2016. file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/pharmacystudent/My%20Documents/Downloads/Focus_on_Benefit_of_CE.pdf

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Enhancing Mental Health Management in the Community

Patients living with mental health conditions are frequently encountered in the community pharmacy.1 Although supporting patients with a mental illness is crucial when providing patient care, this can be difficult. Given the current challenges in mental health care including accessibility, timeliness, and continuity of care, it comes as no surprise that patients with mental health conditions are prone to “falling through the cracks” while navigating the complex healthcare system.2

Pharmacists are ideally positioned to play a larger role
in supporting patients with a mental illness.

Optimal medication management is essential in the care of patients with a mental illness. Pharmacists are a valuable resource to assess the appropriateness of therapy; detect and resolve or prevent drug related problems; provide comprehensive patient information; and address emerging side effects.1 Furthermore, community pharmacists are highly accessible to patients and can often be a first point of contact within the healthcare system, providing health system navigation support and facilitating referrals and triage.1, 2, 3

However, challenges to providing mental health support and management may prevent patients from receiving this level of care. In a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), 75% of patients with a mental health condition reported seldom to never receiving safety and effectiveness monitoring assistance from community pharmacists.4 Barriers to optimal management include lack of privacy, lack of time, competing interests in community pharmacy, lack of awareness on services available to patients with mental illnesses and how the patients could access these services, and lack of therapeutic-based training.3

Pharmacists can make simple changes to improve
the care of people with a mental illness.5

Addressing medication adherence and follow-up, connecting with the prescribers of psychotropic medications, and performing regular medication reviews are all effective ways that pharmacists can increase the care they provide to patients with mental health conditions.5 As the pharmacy scope of practice continues to expand, pharmacists need to actively engage patients living with a mental illness and address their concerns to enhance patient care and improve patient outcomes.


  1. Rubio-Valera, Maria, Timothy F. Chen, and Claire L. O’Reilly. “New Roles for Pharmacists in Community Mental Health Care: A Narrative Review.” Ed. Luis Salvador-Carulla, Alan Rosen, and Ana Fernandez Sanchez. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11.10 (2014): 10967–10990. PMC. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
  2. Murphy, Andrea L. et al. “Partnering to Enhance Mental Health Care Capacity in Communities: A Qualitative Study of the More Than Meds Program.”Canadian Pharmacists Journal: CPJ 148.6 (2015): 314–324. PMC. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
  3. Murphy, Andrea L. et al. “Community Pharmacists’ Experiences in Mental Illness and Addictions Care: A Qualitative Study.” Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 11 (2016): 6. PMC. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.
  4. “NAMI/CPNPF Survey Finds 75 Percent of Individuals with Mental Health Conditions and their Caregivers Don't Receive Medication Monitoring from Pharmacists.” National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2012)
  5. Boivin, M. “Mental Health Champions.” Pharmacy Business. (2015). http://digitalmedia.pharmacyu.ca/PB2015November/index.html#p=1

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

New Face at rxBriefCase

I’m Vanja Adzovic, a fourth year PharmD student from the University of Toronto. 

Over the next 5 weeks, I’m planning to write several blogs, an eNewsletter and medSchool For You FAQ. Blogs, newsletters and FAQs are all fun to read but are proving to be much harder to write. Luckily, we’re provided with a handy week-by-week breakdown of the rotation to guide us through the expectations and the staff is proving quite friendly and approachable. 

I have worked in community pharmacy over the last four years with very recent hospital experience during my APPE rotations. My main pharmacy interests are mental health and dermatology so I hope to pursue these topics during my time here.

Outside of school, I’m an avid reader and enjoy spending time at the library and local Chapters (where I can also satisfy my latte/mocha cravings).

I welcome any questions/suggestions and I look forward to touching base again soon.