Friday, January 20, 2017

Goodbye and Good Luck!

As my rotation draws to a close, I wanted to reflect on a few of my experiences at mdBriefCase. Within a span of five short weeks, I have been able to accomplish several projects, while refining my quantitative and qualitative skills.

Major highlights included the following: 

Learning Outcomes
eCME Critical Appraisal on OAB
-        Provided an opportunity to analyze a participation report
-        Learned about accreditation bodies, such as CCCEP
-        Enhanced my presentation skills
eNewsletter on Sexual Health in Older Men
-        Challenged me to write succinctly and under 1300 words!
-        Collaborated with Content Development and Marketing regarding programming and promotion prior to deployment
9 Blog Posts
-        Explored a variety of topics, including vaccinations by pharmacists and tips for pharmacy students
-        Received positive feedback from colleagues
Foot Care Module on MedSchoolforYou
-        Created a module that supports health literacy amongst patients, and boosts pharmacist confidence when assessing and recommending products for different foot conditions
-        Completed The Diabetes Education: A Comprehensive Review, which served as excellent preparation for the CDE
-        Also finished CMEs on pain, antispasmodics and BED to increase my general therapeutic knowledge

Looking back, each activity challenged my ability to be a malleable writer, clinician and scholar.  I sincerely appreciate all of the help and kindness I have received during my time at mdBriefCase. Special thanks to Cassandra and Mike for their wealth of knowledge and support!

Warmest Regards,


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

All in the Family

During the summer, I had the pleasure of working at a Family Health Team (FHT) in the heart of downtown Toronto. Based on my experiences there, I truly believe that the level and quality of care from a FHT cannot be paralleled to any other, more traditional healthcare model.

There are currently 184 FHTs in Ontario, which serve over 3 million people in over 200 rural and suburban communities. FHTs aim to enhance patient access to comprehensive primary care services from various healthcare providers (HCP). Each FHT has an interdisciplinary team, which typically includes physicians, pharmacists, nurses, nurse practitioners, social workers, dietitians and other allied health professionals.  

Within this ambulatory setting, patients are seen by appointment. During my practice, chronic disease management (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, COPD), warfarin dosing, treatment of short-term illnesses (e.g. UTI) and obstetrical care were most commonly encountered on a daily basis. Certain FHTs also provide specialized services, such as smoking cessation, telemedicine and substance abuse clinics. However, the availability of these services is contingent upon the population the FHT serves. 

As a pharmacy student, my role at the FHT was multifaceted and highly collaborative. In addition to providing medication reviews and patient counseling, I became a valuable drug information resource for other members of the team. I also provided extensive medication management to several complex patients, as part of the home-visit program. 

Overall, my time at the FHT was both incredibly satisfying and rewarding. The rapid turnover of patients made each day a fresh and exciting clinical challenge. Furthermore, my communication, therapeutic and leadership skills rapidly flourished within the academic environment. Looking ahead, I really hope that the FHT model will be adopted by many other jurisdictions, so that essential health care services can be readily accessible by all.

Contact your local FHT to see if you are eligible to enroll in their patient roster!


Friday, January 13, 2017

Putting My Best Foot Forward

Week 4 of my rotation has flown by, and it’s been an exciting one at that. I have been gearing up for the deployment of “Fancy Feet: Caring for Plantar Warts, Athlete’s Foot and Fungal Toenail Infections”. This is a foot care module I have been working on for MedSchoolForYou (MSFY), one of the education platforms from mdBriefCase. This blog will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how this module was developed!

Stage 1: Picking a Topic
  • During my first week, I brainstormed a list of therapeutic topics that would be interesting to write about and appealing to readers. After perusing the MSFY website and reflecting on my experiences in community pharmacy, I identified a knowledge gap in foot care.
Stage 2: Creating an Outline
  • Using various resources (e.g. clinical databases, minor ailments guidelines), I completed preliminary research on the foot conditions I wanted to include in the module. I then created an outline to simplify the writing process.
Stage 3: Creating a Draft
  • Writing the module’s content was a multifaceted process that consisted of researching, data synthesis and organization. I also considered the depth and breadth of information, the use of patient-friendly language and the inclusion of pictures to draw interest.
Stage 4: Editing the Draft
  • I was able to get valuable feedback from Cassandra, my preceptor, and Mike, my pharmacist mentor. Following a series of amendments, the content for the MSFY was finalized.
Stage 5: Programming
  • With the help of Mila, one of our talented Content Developers, all of the content and visual elements were programmed online. She also provided me with drafts on our hidden server to test and approve.
Stage 6: Developing a Marketing Strategy
  • In order to promote the deployment of this module, Cassandra suggested that I write this blog! Furthermore, the module will be shared on mdBriefCase’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Stage 7: Going Live!
  • Now that the MSFY is ready to go, all that’s left to do is launch!

Overall, developing “Fancy Feet” was an insightful opportunity to learn and collaborate within the office. I hope that readers find this module to be both useful and informative!

*Update: Fancy Feet is now live! Readers can access the module here:*


Friday, January 6, 2017

A Case of the Cramps - Review of eCME

To mix up the blog a bit, I’ve decided to review an eCME this time around! After looking through the rxBriefCase directory, the Role of Antispasmodics in the Self-Treatment of Abdominal Cramping and Pain caught my attention.

Based on the learning objectives alone, this topic was already interesting and relevant to my practice. At the community pharmacy I work at, patients commonly ask about gastrointestinal (GI) issues and how to optimally manage them. This program provided a comprehensive overview of functional GI disorder (with a focus on IBS), and increased my confidence in recommending an antispasmodic. Due to the sensitive nature of the condition, I also appreciated the counselling suggestions found throughout the program.

After completing the session, key learning points included:
-        The pathophysiology of functional GI disorder is multifaceted, and includes genetics, psychosocial factors, visceral hypersensitivity, inflammation and changes to bacterial flora
-        Patients with “red flags” (e.g. dysphagia, weight loss >3 kg within 6 months) should be referred to a physician
-        GI diseases can severely impair quality of life, due to the unpredictable nature of symptoms and associated emotional distress
-        Therapies for functional GI disorder are not curative, but mainly target patient-specific symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps and pain 
-        Compared to placebo, loperamide is no more effective at reducing pain, bloating or global symptoms of IBS, and may worsen nighttime abdominal pain
-        Non-prescription antispasmodic therapies (i.e. hyoscine butylbromide, dicyclomine hydrochloride) are effective and well tolerated for abdominal pain and cramps, with a low incidence of anticholinergic side effects

As practice shifts towards pharmacy-based, minor ailments programs, pharmacists are well equipped to embrace the challenges of assessing, educating and treating a number of expanded health conditions. In line with this philosophy, this CME was an excellent illustration of how pharmacist involvement can positively impact the lives of patients with chronic, GI disease.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, New You

With the New Year just beginning, this is a great time for pharmacy students to reflect upon the past year and to set goals for 2017. Here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions to keep you motivated and excited for your future in pharmacy! 

1.     Complete eCMEs
·        In order to provide optimal, evidence-based care, pharmacists and pharmacy students should remain up to date with respect to their therapeutic knowledge.
·        eCMEs are an excellent way to stay abreast of current literature.  In addition, participating in accredited CME programs equip you with educational credits, which can be highly desirable when job seeking.
·        rxBriefCase offers a wide range of free, online programs for pharmacists, pharmacy students and technicians that are easily accessible and convenient!
2.     Update your curriculum vitae (CV)
·        Maintaining an updated CV is critical, especially when new career or educational opportunities arise, such as pharmacy residencies.
·        Be sure to include all of your accomplishments from the past year and provide a brief description of your role and what skills you gained from each activity.
3.     Partake in pharmacy research
·        Pharmacy research can be a very rewarding experience, especially if your project is novel and can enhance current practice.
·        In addition to collaborating with different preceptors, research provides a unique opportunity to improve your scientific writing skills, understand research principles and appreciate research ethics.
4.     Network
·        Attending a pharmacy conference, such as the Pharmacy U Conference or CSHP Professional Practice Conference, will enable you to meet fellow peers, experts, mentors and even your potential employer!
·        Conferences are also a great way to learn about the latest in drug development, research innovation and clinical practice.
5.     Seek further certifications
·        After graduation, obtaining additional certifications will distinguish you from being just another pharmacist with a PharmD. Certifications, including the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), Certified Geriatric Pharmacist (CGP) and Certificate in Travel Health (CTH) will allow you to become highly specialized and qualified!

Best Wishes in 2017!