Continuing Education is Important for Pharmacists to Provide Best Care to Patients

Kurt Proctor, PhD, RPh, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at NCPA, discussed the importance of continue education for pharmacists.

In an interview with Pharmacy Times® at the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Annual Convention, Kurt Proctor, PhD, RPh, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at NCPA, discussed the importance of continue education for pharmacists.

Q: What is NCPA’s Show Me Video series?

Kurt Proctor: NCPA has an objective of making immunizations a core competency of community pharmacy practice, and the NCPA Innovation Center has undertaken lots of different projects to help make that happen. We have lots of resources available to our members, we talk about it a lot, but we wanted to do something unique and present kind of a reality show approach to helping pharmacists get over whatever hurdles they're facing and expanding their vaccination program.

It may be a program that hasn't even started yet, or it may be one that's more fully developed, but yet they have some needs that they can use some help with. What we've done is we've sent in experienced peers who have very good robust vaccination programs into stores with pharmacies that have indicated to us that they wanted some help, and we're filming that. It's like, again, like a reality TV show type thing, and this is the first episode we were really, really happy with. So far, we've got some promo, early promos that are on our website at this point., and we are hoping folks will see that.

We're planning a launch party for it later this month, but it all we believe many pharmacists will see themselves in the pharmacies that we've gone into film and help a lot of pharmacies experiencing the same kinds of problems, same kind of challenges, hurdles that they want to get over, and so hopefully they'll find nuggets of help. Just like the pharmacies that we visited got great help from their experience periods who visited them.

Q: What is the importance of continuing education for pharmacists, especially as their responsibilities grow?

Kurt Proctor: Continuing education is clearly something that's been around with the profession forever. It's all health professions, it's an important part of what they do. It's important for pharmacists to kind of understand what they need in their practice, what do they need to learn, what might be newer information, things that they haven't been exposed to before. In our world at NCPA, we focus a lot on the services that pharmacies can be providing to patients, and that's an important part of it too, and their business. They need to be able to keep their business growing and profitable, so that they can be around to serve their community. So that's an important part of their continuing education as well that we focus on, but pharmacists get lots of CE and lots of whether it be on drugs and disease states. As new things come into the marketplace, it's important for pharmacists to understand the diseases that are being identified, and now where new treatments are coming out. It's just important for all health professionals to stay up to date on you know, on their practice, so they're serving their patients.

Q: How can community pharmacists encourage their patients to get vaccinated?

Kurt Proctor: It's important that pharmacists talk to patients about flu vaccine, about all vaccines, and kind of what their situation is what they may not have gotten yet that it's time in the series to get again, and, of course, flu being an annual vaccine. I think what a lot of pharmacists will be surprised at is how receptive patients are to their recommendation. I think, again, beyond just flu, they may not realize how many of their patients aren't up to date on their vaccines, and that when they do ask them about whatever it may be, they'll find that there's a real patient interest in getting those vaccines.

In fact, we discovered some of that even in the Show Me videos that we've filmed that a little surprise from the pharmacists in terms of the receptivity of the patients, so that was recommendations.

Q: What are the biggest challenges community pharmacies are currently facing?

Kurt Proctor: That’s a big question, isn't it? Clearly, the economics around dispensing and product is first and foremost at the tip of everybody's mind, but they're coming off of a lot of success in serving their community with the COVID vaccines and COVID treatments and COVID testing and all that activity, which of course is now waning a little bit down. So, they are learning how to make that part of their core business, and it's not just about the pandemic and the public health emergency, but you're recognizing that they can be providing these services, can be charging for the services, can be billing for the services, and so there's a nice learning curve for them around that and how to maintain the service-based revenue that their business has enjoyed over these last couple of years as, again, they've served their community for COVID.

So we're focused on helping them understand those opportunities, understand the billing processes around those opportunities, but nothing at this point trumps the economics of dispensing and DIR concerns, etc. That gets a lot of attention, and it deserves it.