Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Professional Development Webinars for Pharmacists

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Professional Development Webinars for Pharmacists

Article excerpt


Over the past decade there has been a shift from the traditional classroom to the virtual classroom, especially within the area of continuing professional education and among nontraditional adult learners. (1) With this technology-centric focus, many in higher education have looked for successful methods for delivering online education to adult learners. Experiences with online credit courses for adult learners have implications for the continuing professional development (CPD) model for pharmacists, especially the action portion of the model. (2) The literature suggests that adult learners may experience a higher level of academic success when the learner is intrinsically motivated, there is a presence of a formal learning community, and the material that is being presented has a focus on real-world applicability. (3) Many suggest that within the community of online learners, the instructors and students have a responsibility to support and interact with each other in a manner similar to a more traditional setting. (4) This sense of community among learners is vital due to the community's presumed understanding and sharing of everyday requirements (eg, family obligations, work pressures). Garrison and colleagues developed the Community of Inquiry, an e-learning model that combines social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence as essential components of a successful educational experience. (5) Their model predicts that social presence (as opposed to both a social and physical presence in a traditional classroom) plays a major role in establishing an educational climate by encouraging discourse. However, the single session format of many continuing education opportunities prevents students from forming social connections with each other. The lack of discourse may discourage students from enrolling in multiple courses even if the content is intellectually rewarding.

Many professionals are required to complete continuing education to meet state and federal licensure requirements. This mandate is a key differentiator of this group from the general population of adult learners when considering effective tactics for delivery and which topics to offer. (1,6-8) For professionals, completion of a degree is the start of their learning, not the end, especially when the field such as pharmacy, impacts society. (9-13) Today, all states except for Hawaii and the District of Columbia require licensed pharmacists to participate in continuing education. Continuing education requirements are dictated by the states and the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), which accredits the providers of continuing education.

There is a lack of research on what makes effective webinars within the contexts of professional development and continuing education. Buxton and DeMuth performed an exploratory analysis of local vs online attendees at a conference plenary session and found that both groups tended to choose the format that best fit their needs and preferences and that there was no difference in level of satisfaction with the session between local and distant learners. (14)

Extension Services in Pharmacy, a division of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has a long history of innovations in and evaluation of distance learning experiences, providing pharmacists with convenient, ACPE accredited, and timely professional development opportunities. (15-19) Anew series of webinars was designed for non-degree-seeking pharmacy professionals who were completing continuing education courses to increase their professional development and in some cases to complete state licensure requirements.

A study was conducted in early 2012 to evaluate the webinar series. The objectives of this study were to: (1) evaluate pharmacists' experiences with University of Wisconsin pharmacy webinars; and (2) determine why pharmacists participate in a limited number of webinars offered through the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy. …

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