Point-of-Care Testing Certificate Program: Takeaways for Pharmacists

JULY 20, 2015
The National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) recently created a certificate program to train pharmacists on how to conduct point-of-care (POC) testing in the community pharmacy.
The training takes approximately 20 hours, including 12 hours of home reading on relevant testing services and procedures that culminate in a home test that must be completed prior to attending the actual program.

The material may seem daunting at first. I printed out approximately 250 pages of material that ranged from US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, to CDC How-To Guides on POC testing procedures, to clinical documents such as Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines on treating Group A Streptococcal pharyngitis.
Those wondering how hard the test was can rest assured that is manageable. The test is roughly 40 questions long, open-book, and gives the user 2 tries. Those who attempt to wing the test may find it preferable to set aside extra time to prepare.

At first, I found it difficult to distinguish how all of this information tied together, but after attending the program, I found that all of the material relates. For pharmacists who wish to obtain their POC certificate, the information provided over the course of the program may bring back memories of therapeutics, disease management, and diagnosis that were taught in school. The supplied reading helps bring attendees up to speed on current practices that may have been updated or changed since they graduated.
The actual day of POC training was quite fun. The program is a mix of lectures on topics related to POC testing, including disease diagnosing and management, along with a review of current laws and procedures. It also detailed how to integrate POC testing into the community pharmacy, including workflow and time management. This is broken up with hands-on practice, such as vitals assessment and POC testing.

Testing mechanics were first demonstrated by the speakers, and then the audience members practiced on one another. This exercise included throat, nasal, and mouth swabs. It can be daunting to have your partner shove a testing swab up your nasal cavity, so try not to move!

Disease testing was oriented toward infectious diseases like HIV, hepatitis, strep throat, and influenza. Coupled with this was disease management and treatment, describing collaborative practices currently used by pharmacists who are already engaged in POC testing. One example provided was a procedure used by a pharmacy that identified a patient with a positive result of influenza and then prescribed Tamiflu for treatment.

Overall, the training was worth attending. I returned the following day to complete a “Train-the-Trainer” program to teach others how to do POC testing, and I am looking forward to teaching my first session.

I believe POC testing will help expand pharmacy practice, especially in the midst of the push for pharmacists to achieve provider status. POC testing will give pharmacists another tool to use and serve the community.

Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
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