Behind the Scenes: A Snapshot Into the World of Continuing Education
“Lights, camera, action!” These are 3 words you do not typically hear as a pharmacist, but they are not unusual among those of us who work for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education.
“Lights, camera, action!” These are 3 words you do not typically hear as a pharmacist, but they are not unusual among those of us who work for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™. Our 4000-square-foot in-house studio gives us the unique ability to film everything from Medical Crossfires® composed of a multidisciplinary panel to patients who share their personal experience with a disease. Filming days are always high-energy occasions, with excitement radiating from those both behind the scenes and in front of the camera.
Although not every week includes a trip to the studio, our day-to-day experience is filled with just as much excitement at Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™. As part of a health care communications company, we aim to create educational activities that facilitate self-directed learning to support the growth of pharmacists and enhance their professional practice. As directors of scientific affairs, we develop content with experts in the field and execute engaging continuing education (CE) programs, which ensures every day will be different. What many often do not realize is that this role encompasses much more than medical writing. Some days may include faculty calls and meetings to strategize and discuss current and future offerings, while others might be spent critically reviewing a first draft or a final layout of a manuscript or a slide deck. We also get to delve deeper into topics we do not typically encounter, such as von Willebrand disease, medical cannabis, and even human rabies. Not all days are spent at the office, however; we also have the opportunity to travel across the nation and network with both familiar and new professionals.
This position is unique not only because it provides opportunities to discover solutions to challenges you may face when educating patients and health care providers but also because it flames our creativity and motivates us to think outside the box to build resources that can make a difference. We are constantly working on different types of deliverables and are able to implement new ideas, such as an interactive simulation platform to enhance and assess decision making by using a virtual patient. To make our visions come to fruition, we work with individuals with various backgrounds, from business development to program management to marketing. In a traditional pharmacy setting, we might work with many other pharmacists and health care professionals, but here we are looked up to as the medical experts on the team.
We both come from a community pharmacy background, which has helped tremendously in our current roles. Who has better knowledge on what pharmacists look for in their CE activities than practicing pharmacists? Moreover, the organizational and management skills gained from working in a retail setting are key skills that translate well to a medical education setting. Touching the lives of individual patients is always meaningful for a pharmacist, and although there is limited patient interaction here, our influence is still profound. By educating pharmacists and physicians from a variety of settings—including health systems, specialty, and managed care—we affect patients on a much grander scale. The confidence health care professionals gain from our programs is valuable because they in turn use this knowledge to both personalize and optimize the care of their patients.
We always hear that pharmacy is a small world, but it is hard to visualize just how accurate this statement is until after graduation. We were both introduced to Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™ through suggestions from other pharmacists in our alumni network. Now we often get the opportunity to not only work with our previous faculty but also meet other members of our graduating class when attending conferences. This role has enabled us to immerse ourselves in new and exciting ventures, from action-packed studio days to collaboration with health care professionals, to create impactful educational activities. Given our experiences working in CE, the most important advice we can offer to future graduates is to appreciate the nuances in the pharmacy world. You never know where your career path will take you.
Dipti Desai, PharmD, is the senior director of scientific affairs for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™ and a graduate of the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. Liza Patel, PharmD, is a director of scientific affairs for Pharmacy Times Continuing Education™ and a graduate of the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy.