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Week 2 - Interprofessional Education by Caroline Small
Interprofessional Education
March 10 – March 14
One reason I wanted to complete an APPE at AACP was to better understand and internalize the long term vision for pharmacy education. Pharmacy practice is rapidly evolving and schools need to be three steps ahead of this evolving practice model to develop prepared, competent, and confident pharmacy practitioners. As pharmacists become more integrated into the heath care system, and as the push for pharmacist provider status takes a step forward in the public eye, it is time to examine how student pharmacists are being prepared to lead this charge. Undoubtedly, students have the capacity; it is now about providing them the necessary skills and training so they can stride into this role, rather than shuffle – or be dragged – into it.
I spent a couple of days this week at a meeting focused on this educational shift.  The goal was to develop a way for health profession students from all fields to interact and work as a team before meeting in a real healthcare setting where the stakes are much higher. The meeting brought together representatives from many healthcare fields – pharmacy, nursing, medicine, dentistry, and public health – to develop the framework for a virtual interprofessional forum wherein persons from all professions would interact and gain experience with and information about each other’s fields. The team works together to solve healthcare related problems, relying on the knowledge of each field to resolve the issue and help the patient. As reimbursement for healthcare services, especially in the inpatient setting, becomes more tied to patient outcomes due to the actions of a healthcare team, it becomes increasingly important for all health care professionals to work well together. However, many of us never practice acting and interacting as a group. This virtual setting is intended to allow for exactly that.
I have seen the merit in interprofessional education since I started pharmacy school. Pharmacists are expected to interact seamlessly with people from other professions but our training does not always highlight the responsibilities of each profession, where their skills and ours overlap, and to whom we should defer when our expertise is exhausted. There is still much to be done to enhance this virtual education tool, but the conversations between those who came together to facilitate the process got me thinking about the importance of fluidity in education. I saw how it is necessary to be constantly evolving, not only in how we teach, but also in how we view the role of pharmacy and pharmacy education.
I similarly started thinking about my approach to my education thus far and how I envision my future education. I chose pharmacy as a career partially because it is never stagnant and there is always more to know and learn. My question now is how to implement my goal for lifelong learning and what approaches to take to stay up to date. The onus is on me to be responsible for my education and, in a broader sense, uphold the image of pharmacy I want to convey by being well-informed, resourceful, and respectfully articulate.
Subscribing to journals and reading new research is how I was taught to stay up to date in my field, in addition to attending conferences to learn about upcoming trends and new data. However, I learned far more during my education from conversations with peers, colleagues, and other health professionals than I did from someone lecturing me or reading journal articles. Conversations made me think, synthesize, process, and articulate my thoughts in a way that others can understand. It was this interaction that made me truly grasp – and subsequently retain – this information.
This is a major goal of the aforementioned program. Working with others, talking to them and understanding their thoughts and perspectives, allows you to understand material in a whole new way. Compounding this, working on a team to achieve a goal grows the skills of all involved and ultimately results in better patient care. The importance of working together is more paramount than I ever suspected. To this end I aim to listen more than I speak, and seek to understand more than to be understood, and articulate my thoughts and recommendations clearly and succinctly. This open communication and willingness to work together may in fact be the best way for me to learn, and continuing to develop these skills will ultimately result in my ability to provide better care for my patients.
Caroline Small
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2014
University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy


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