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Continuing education workshops strengthen the profession

Friday, 25 May 2018

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Professional Practice Fellow, Emma Smith presenting in Hamilton.

Pharmacists from as far north as Auckland and far south as Invercargill have benefited this year from the School of Pharmacy's continuing education workshops on depression and treatment resistance.

School of Pharmacy Dean Professor Carlo Marra and Professional Practice Fellow Emma Smith have been travelling New Zealand, sharing an overview of the school and delivering the workshops.

Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator, Rewa Pene, says the workshops were well attended by pharmacists in Christchurch, Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland and Invercargill. A final workshop was held at the University of Otago Staff Club in Dunedin on May 23 with over 30 local pharmacists in attendance and another 70 participating through an online webinar.

“For the first time, the School of Pharmacy has provided a workshop to all NZ pharmacists, free of charge, to further educate the profession on depression and treatment resistance as well as strengthen relationships with preceptors, alumni and pharmacists,” she says.

Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand ENHANCE accreditation was available to all attendees. The workshops included opportunities for networking and were followed by an alumni dinner.

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Christchurch alumni dinner at Dux Central.

At the workshops, Mrs Smith spoke about Depression and Treatment Resistance. She arrived in New Zealand in 2015 from the United Kingdom, where she worked as an advanced clinical pharmacist, specialising in mental health for eight years.

“I was delighted to be involved in the continuing education sessions and really feel that pharmacists are well placed to help those suffering with depression and treatment resistance. Depression is a common condition that can be, for some challenging to treat. I hope to empower pharmacists to question interesting prescribing and to feel confident to identify and refer patients to specialist services when appropriate,” she says.

Of those attending the Wellington workshop, Anna Kyle described it as “informative, interesting and interactive; knowledgeable presenter” and Judy Alexander said it provided much to use in practice.

Those attending the Auckland workshop generally found it engaging and instructional, with Lynette Chua noting that it was good to put their knowledge to the test and to learn how other pharmacists would approach certain situations.

Christchurch attendee Hannah Soper commented that “Emma was so passionate about her topic and had so much to share” and Claire McGuinniety said the workshop provided useful background for a non-mental health pharmacist and a different perspective to her job as a clinical pharmacist working in surgery.

Hamilton participant Sheila Emslie said: “I found it stimulating, enlightening and provided me with the understanding and tools to counsel patients”, while Claudine Wong said the workshop gave a great overview of treatment options and alternatives.

Regarding the Invercargill workshop, Adrian Butson commented that it provided insight into how resistant depression is treated; Prue Fraser said it was thought-provoking and also a time to meet colleagues; and Lynn Sloan, that it broke down barriers regarding possible future study at the University of Otago.

During their trip, Professor Marra and Mrs Smith also visited preceptors, pharmacists who take the school's undergraduate students on placements. The pair viewed innovative pharmacies; introduced the revised curriculum and changes preceptors could expect to see; listened to their concerns; and visited recent graduates who are in their internship year.

The school plans to hold further continuing education workshops and will continue to consult with preceptors on the revised curriculum.

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Professor Carlo Marra and Emma Smith visit Otago's long time preceptor, Daryl Sayer, at Redcliffs Pharmacy in Christchurch.

Article written by Sharon Fowler for the School of Pharmacy newsletter, Volume 3 Issue 1.