Pharmacist specialization is a focus at Yurek Pharmacy in St. Thomas, Ont.
By Michael Boivin BScPhm
Photo by Brandon Gray
“Several years ago we realized that there was a need for specialized pharmacy services in our community,” explains pharmacy manager Steve Bond. “We had a vision of having four to five pharmacist specialists on our staff to support our patients and our community, promote collaboration with physicians, and help engage our pharmacists to bring their practice to the next level.”
Unlike many pharmacists who undergo specialization, Steve and the pharmacy team engaged other healthcare professionals in the community to determine the best services they could offer to fill the patient care gaps. “We were originally thinking that an INR clinic would be an excellent service to offer our patients, but when discussing it with local physicians most said they would not use the service. By approaching these stakeholders before specialization, we could determine the specialized services they would refer for and those underserviced in the community.”
Through this consultation process, enhanced diabetes and respiratory care were defined as needs for their community. Steve and his pharmacy team then looked for training that would allow them to successfully challenge the Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and Certified Respiratory Educator (CRE) exams.
They turned to the programs at healthelearning.ca. “I decided that I would write the CDE exam and took the CDE preparation program,” said Steve. “This course helped as it distilled the key topics from the CDE exam down to manageable chunks. I also appreciated the ability to download the lessons in a PDF format to my tablet where I could study whenever I had a few extra minutes throughout my day. I found I was well-prepared to write the exam and confident in applying this knowledge to the patients I see in practice when I became a CDE.”
Steve Bond’s tips for pharmacists considering specialization:
- Start with a vision before considering specialization. “Some pharmacists will become certified but never apply certification in their practice. Before becoming certified, we knew what we were going to offer our patients and worked toward this vision.”
- Talk to stakeholders in your community. “We consulted everyone, including the diabetes education centre. This helps us work collaboratively with other providers in our community and has led to a significant number of referrals.”
- Start studying early. “For each of these exams you have to apply months before the test. I would encourage you to start preparing when you apply. There is simply too much content to cram in a short period of time.”
- Look for a quality preparation course. “Although you can find much of the information on the exam in disease guidelines, a prep course can help you understand the key concepts.”
- Actively promote the certification at your store. “We promote specialized diabetes and respiratory care in our advertising and communication to physicians. They know what we can do for patients and this has really increased the uptake of our services.”