Access to information and learning

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” ― Albert Einstein

I’ve recently returned from the ASHP Summer Meeting. I learned some new things, which serves as a reminder to me of the importance of continuous learning and access to information in our profession.

As a pharmacist I’ve been involved in a lot of systems over the years designed to keep me up to date. All have been successful in their own way, but obviously some were better than others.

  • Reading on your own is always an option. This is a tried-and-true method that has proven valuable since the beginning of pharmacy. I was never a heavy reader of literature. I knew pharmacists that would read upwards of 20 journal articles a week, while I only read 5-10. However, this learning method requires access to literature. Sounds simple, but it’s not. Most literature is locked behind paywalls. I used to have access to lots of literature when I worked in a hospital. Now that I’m no longer to a healthcare facility my access to literature is limited. It has been quite frustrating. This is one reason why I think more literature should be freely available.
  • Providing in house CE used to be popular, but it’s fallen by the wayside over the years due to new requirements for drug companies. It wasn’t all that effective anyway. Most of the time it was a sales pitch with food, and pens.
  • Holding weekly journal club meetings is a good way to collect information, and it’s not just for students and residents. When I worked as a pediatric pharmacist there was a group of us that would gather weekly to discuss articles and share ideas. Each of us was responsible for reviewing the table of contents for several journals each month. When we found an article that might benefit our practice we’d share it with the group. It worked quite well. Collectively we covered a lot of ground. With the advent of things like Google+ Hangouts one would think that this type of thing could be done on a much larger, and successful, scale.
  • There’s always attending conferences. Conferences like ASHP Midyear, HIMSS, etc. are great places to gather information on the latest happenings. The great thing about conferences is that you can find one for just about anything these days. On the other hand, conferences can be costly. Many healthcare systems won’t flip the bill for a pharmacist to attend important conferences, which is a real shame because it’s worth the investment. Some pharmacists will pay their own way, but the cost can quickly escalate depending on the registration fee.
  • Scouring the internet is an option, but one should be cautious. While full of information, the internet isn’t all good. One has to be careful not to fall into the “believe what you read trap”. Sounds simple enough, but it can be hard to distinguish credible information from garbage.

Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important that you continue to plug away.

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