Pharmacists offered on-line refresher course

March 20, 2006

Pharmacists who would like to give community practice another whirl but aren't sure they're up to the task can sign up for an on-line refresher course to boost their knowledge?and confidence?about heading back behind the counter.

Pharmacists who would like to give community practice another whirl but aren't sure they're up to the task can sign up for an on-line refresher course to boost their knowledge-and confidence-about heading back behind the counter.

The Pharmacists Refresher Course is designed for pharmacists who would like to return to community practice after an absence of three or more years. Developed by the Connecticut Pharmacists Association (CPA), the course consists of three on-line modules, all of which have been approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) for continuing education credits.

The first module addresses the most frequently prescribed drugs and over-the-counter remedies, said Marghie Giuliano, R.Ph., CPA executive VP. The module is accessible for eight weeks and should take about 50 hours to complete.

There's also a weekly test to keep students on track and up to speed.

"The program also uses case scenarios as the basis for threaded discussions," said Giuliano. "Students can post questions about the lectures and discuss the scenarios. It's fun to read what others have to say and comment on one another's answers."

Pharmacy law, third-party issues, and prescription processing are the focus of the second module, which is accessible for six weeks and should take about 45 hours. One week is spent stressing the implementation of safe prescription practices, said Giuliano. "We encourage them to develop their own quality assurance system before going back into practice and to discuss it," she added.

Module three is a three-week hands-on practicum in a community pharmacy that lets the cyber-students put into practice what they have learned in the previous modules.

"The refresher course has really fulfilled a need," said Giuliano. "It's not costly, and it provides a venue for people to step back into practice safely and competently. That's good for the profession and for patients as well."

Each module costs $500. The first module earns students 50 CE credits, while the second module earns 45 credits, 15 of which are law, and the third module is worth 15 live hours of CE.

In addition to CPA, seven other state pharmacy associations offer the refresher course: Iowa, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. CPA and the South Carolina Pharmacy Association have also spun off a two-week law review/ quality assurance course for pharmacists who are looking to reciprocate their licenses or who need a quality assurance program.

There's more information on the Web. It can be found at http://www.ctpharmacists.org/ or http://www.cosc.edu/programs/pharmacyrefresher.cfm/ .