The Role of Health Informatics in the Provision of Continuing Pharmacy Education
The internship was completed with the Division of Continuing Pharmacy Education, Dalhousie College of Pharmacy, under the supervision of the director, Bev Zwicker, and Dr. Ingrid Sketris, Professor, Dalhousie College of Pharmacy. The Division operates as part of the Dalhousie College of Pharmacy to provide and facilitate access to continuing education programs and continuing professional development opportunities for pharmacists licensed to practice in the Maritime provinces. The internship work was performed from January 14, 2005 to April 23, 2005. The intern’s role was to research the role of Health Informatics in the provision of continuing pharmacy education, as well as to analyze data obtained from a recent needs assessment designed to gauge Nova Scotia pharmacists’ preferences and use of various formats to acquire continuing education, use of technology by practicing pharmacists, and knowledge gaps in the area of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Health informatics provides new methods to potentially improve the delivery of continuing education (CE), providing an “any time, any place, any pace” learning environment. These new approaches can offer more interactive learning tools that have been shown to be more effective than traditional didactic learning methods. Results of a recent needs assessment indicate that traditional print and oral CE formats continue to be the preferred medium by Nova Scotia pharmacists. However, it was also found that although pharmacists prefer the live formats, accessibility can be an issue. It is recommended that the Division of Continuing Pharmacy Education continue to look into the delivery of technology based CE initiatives. These methods offer the potential to improve learning, as well as increase accessibility to interactive formats of education. Also, for the time being, the Division should continue to provide high quality print and oral CE programs to its membership as these are the preferred methods and continue to be used frequently. To enhance the efficacy of these methods, they should be made as interactive as possible and post-session reminders should be used to reinforce the material presented. The internship was a valuable experience to the author and provided an opportunity to understand the role and challenges to the use of technology in continuing education. Further experience in the areas of statistics, research methods and project management was also gained. The results of the internship have been used to help develop a continuing education program on COPD available to all pharmacists in Nova Scotia through various formats. Additionally, the feasibility of publishing the results of the internship is being explored as an avenue to increase knowledge relating to continuing pharmacy education.