Thursday, May 12, 2016

A Career of Lifelong Learning

Hello rxBriefCase! As a big fan of continuing education (CE) programs, I am grateful for this type of unique pharmacy experience.  The importance of continuing education is unquestionable; as healthcare professionals we are accountable to provide competent care to our patients throughout our careers.

To accomplish this, we must maintain and continuously develop our knowledge, skills and attitudes in the ever-changing healthcare system.1

Over the next 5 weeks, I will be reviewing a current CE program available for pharmacists as well as producing an e-Newsletter for rxPassport and a mini-module in medSchool For You’s Pharmacy Corner. I hope they will be as enriching to read as they will be to create!  

It is pretty incredible to see all the various roles and components that contribute to the launch of a CE program.   Understanding the foundation upon which continuing education is based really helps you appreciate the time and effort that goes into building these modules. Learning to write continuing education content while simultaneously being a user of these programs enhances all aspects of the learning experience. 

In fact, practicing these different tasks – such as writing continuing education content and participating in continuing education - in a random order has been shown to result in better retention of concepts than practicing them in a blocked order: this is known as the contextual interference (CI) effect.2  Where blocking involves practicing one skill at a time, contextual interference mixes practice on several related skills together.3  This technique produces enhanced performance across disciplines, spanning from athletic training to problem solving in academia.3,4
This approach to learning is increasingly applicable when noticing features among a list of competing alternatives is part of the task; contextual interference helps learners to more quickly estimate the impact of ideas on a case, which I know will absolutely be an asset in pharmacy practice! 4, 5

Again, I am so fortunate for this rotation – good luck to all you lifelong learners!!

1.   Canadian Nurses Association. Professional Development. (2016). at Accessed May 11, 2016.
2.   Lin, C.-H. J., Wu, A. D., Udompholkul, P. & Knowlton, B. J. Contextual interference effects in sequence learning for young and older adults. Psychol. Aging 25, 929–939 (2010).
3.   Pan, S. The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning. Sci. Am. (2015). at Accessed May 11, 2016.
4.   Helsdingen, A. S., van Gog, T. & Merrie, Vannboer, J. J. G. The effects of practice schedule and critical thinking prompts on learning and transfer of a complex judgment task. J. Educ. Psychol. 103, 383–398 (2011).
5.   Hatala, R. M., Brooks, L. R. & Norman, G. R. Practice Makes Perfect: The Critical Role of Mixed Practice in the Acquisition of ECG Interpretation Skills. Adv. Heal. Sci. Educ. 8, 17–26 (2003).