Continuing Pharmacy Education (CPE) Comes Alive!

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
November 11, 2009

There’s a band I enjoy listening to both on my iPod and in person. Their name is Cowboy Mouth. They’re not a headliner, platinum record type group but one that plays smaller venues like the House of Blues, a lot of University campuses, and local festivals but they are based out of New Orleans, Louisiana. They are loud, irreverent and very interactive. In one of their most famous tunes called “Hurricane Party”, which they don’t play quite as much since Katrina’s disaster, the chorus begins “Hurricane party got out of control, lyin’ in the gutter eating Tootsie Rolls”, and every time that line is sung the band is pelted with miniature Tootsie Rolls by the front rows of the audience until the stage is nearly covered! In another song titled “Everybody loves Jill”, a verse in the song goes “She eats her red cake with her red spoon”, and the pelting begins with red plastic spoons! With every song the lead singer and drummer, who sits on the front edge of the stage, demands that the audience clap and often screams for them to jump up and down! These are some of the most entertaining not to mention interactive concerts I have ever enjoyed! You head to the car sweaty, hoarse and worn out but with every song ringing in your ears and a smile that takes three days to lose.

Well don’t count on this type of interaction at a live CPE program in the near future, but you have and will continue to see more interaction at every CPE program from ICHP from now on. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) is strongly encouraging more interaction in every continuing education program, live and home-study! If you’ve attended any ICHP Spring or Annual Meeting in the last two years, you should have noticed more roundtables, case studies and audience response opportunities. All of these types of programming are intended to keep learners actively involved and not lulled to sleep with hour lectures one after another. We are directing program faculty to incorporate more interactive learning activities throughout each presentation. This should make the programming more interesting and help participants learn more at the same time.

So how do you make home-study programs interactive? Add case studies throughout the text with answers and rationale provided in the following paragraphs. This creates better retention of important information and provides an active break in the midst of the program.

ACPE continues to encourage providers to measure the outcomes of their programming, too. In the future you may receive a follow-up phone call or e-mail from a CPE provider to determine if you have incorporated any of the lessons learned from a recent CPE program into your practice, and if so if you have noticed a difference. This may seem like it is overstepping the bounds of the CPE process to some, but it is ACPE’s attempt to demonstrate to the public and Congress that continuing pharmacy education is improving patient care.

Most of you have noticed that the giveaways such as pens, pads, calculators, flash drives, etc. have gone by the wayside at pharmacy meetings over the past few years. This is a direct result of Congressional scrutiny of the impact of pharmaceutical marketing on the cost of health care. In addition, Congress continues to examine whether continuing medical education of any kind is causing similar increases in costs as a result of company influenced programming. ICHP has embraced the efforts of ACPE and ACCME to separate and remove corporate influence and bias from all continuing pharmacy education. This has actually helped ICHP select programming that is more in line with what members want and need rather than programming that is paid for and available from the pharmaceutical industry. Programming like the latter is no longer widely available, so that has helped as well.

ICHP does solicit educational grants from many of the pharmaceutical manufacturers and has been moderately successful in this process. However, the new grant processes remove any corporate influence on the program but in turn require significant time up front and afterwards in preparing and reconciling the various grants. We will continue to provide quality continuing pharmacy education at as low a cost to our members as possible and we encourage all of our members to participate in any and all programming we offer in order to assist us in future grant submissions. The guarantee of a full house often helps tip the scale in the favor of the grant requestor!

I would love to see people leave an ICHP educational program as pumped up as the audience from a Cowboy Mouth concert does, but I know that’s just not going to happen. However, it is refreshing to read program evaluations like the ones we received at this year’s Annual Meeting in September. Overall program ratings were strong and ratings of the interactive program formats were better than ever! The Educational Planning Committee and the staff will continue to work to make your CPE programs come alive!

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