On-line course prepares R.Ph.s to manage diabetes

May 7, 2007

Web-based diabetes education program provides schools and students better medication therapy management (MTM) training

To help make that shift, Drab joined together with a multi-disciplinary group of diabetes educators to develop a diabetes curriculum that could be used nationwide. The result is a curriculum, introduced last year, that can be offered to students as a stand-alone, 45-hour, three-credit class or integrated into an existing class. In addition, the class can also be accessed as a continuing education course through CE City.

According to Drab, the project emerged out of a Novo Nordisk advisory board. The board brought together physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other diabetes experts to develop the educational program aimed specifically at training pharmacy students.

Each module consists of one to five hours of content and can be used as part of the entire course, or accessed separately and integrated into other programs.

Technology necessarily played a major role in making the program easy to access nationwide. Tests can be administered on-line, where all the lectures and other materials are also available. Flexibility was key, Drab noted, and the course was designed to be entirely self-directed for students. Students complete approximately one module per week and attend a one- to two-hour discussion session once every two weeks during the semester. Students successfully completing the elective will have the knowledge and basic skill set to begin practicing diabetes management in the clinic.

In the year since the course was introduced, 73 schools of pharmacy nationwide have signed on to offer the course or to integrate parts of it into their curriculum. In addition, Lebanese American University in Beirut, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Puerto Rico are also using the course. Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 students have taken the course. And given the course's availability for continuing education, Drab expects that number to grow quickly and significantly. In addition, he indicated, a number of pharmacy chains have begun to take advantage of the course.

"What is novel is that this is the future of how we will educate the next generation of practitioners," marveled Drab. "This course brings together experts around the country. We are creating a national curriculum for diabetes management in pharmacy."

Pharmacy educators are already recognizing the importance of the project as a template for other disease states. "There have been a lot of requests to move into other disease states," Drab said. "Educators like the module format. We had no thought of doing a CE program until pharmacists came to us and said, 'Why can't we do this?'"