Pharmacy U

Karen Riley’s formula for better geriatric care


Pharmacist-consultant Karen Riley from Sarnia, Ont. has always had a passion for improving her knowledge.

By Mike Boivin BSc.Phm.

Pharmacist-consultant Karen Riley from Sarnia, Ont. has always had a passion for improving her knowledge. “I have focused on continually improving my education as it enhances my ability to provide the best patient care.”

After pharmacy graduation, she obtained her PharmD and multiple credentials from many certification bodies.  “School was just the beginning of learning; my goal is always to look for knowledge I can immediately apply to my patients.”

Karen has worked in a variety of pharmacy settings and although each was unique, she always found that older patients required the most support. “I could see clearly that older patients not only had the most complex medical needs, but also extensive psychosocial needs that I could address.”

Although Karen had studied geriatrics during her training, she felt that obtaining her certified geriatric pharmacist (CGP) credentials in 2011 would enhance her patient care. “Any type of certification helps to increase your knowledge, skills and ability. I use my CGP every day in practice as it helps me look at the whole patient. As our population continues to age, every patient in your practice could eventually benefit from increasing your knowledge in geriatric care.”

“The CGP allows pharmacists to start to look for issues beyond those associated with medications. We have to look more at how issues such as a lack of family support, taking care of a sick spouse, and lack of mobility could impact our elderly patients. I think as a profession we can do more to support the patient population we see most commonly in practice.”

Karen feels that that any pharmacist could benefit from CGP certification. “Pharmacists should look at their setting and patient populations in their community, to see which certification would best address their patients’ needs.”



Karen’s tips for pharmacists interested in the CGP certification:

  1. Reach out to a colleague with the credentials. “There are many pharmacists with this specialized training who are available to help you.”
  2. Take a review course. “There are a number of review courses available in either a live session or through home study.”
  3. Apply the knowledge immediately. “Just having the knowledge is one thing, but I recommend that pharmacists apply it in practice. Not only will this help their patients, but also will make them more comfortable preparing for the exam.”
  4. Consider visiting elderly patients in their homes. “It is very difficult to fully assess patients until you see them in their homes. Within minutes, I can determine the physical and psychosocial issues that are affecting their health.”
  5. Take the time to invest in yourself. “Certification takes some time and resources, but I can tell you from personal experience that the more education you receive, the more confident you will become and the better the care you can give your patients.”