This book provides 33 chapters, each representing one or more active learning exercises in various topic areas that faculty can use to enhance didactic and experiential education and that students can employ to apply their knowledge and improve their learning.
While there are many topics and exercises addressed by the text, they can be categorized into a few broader areas. There are several chapters on SOAP (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan) notes. The text features five unique chapters on SOAP notes, with activities ranging from the community pharmacy setting to the more advanced SOAP note writing skills for more complex situations involving the prioritization of patient problems.
Although some SOAP note activities include a patient interview component, the patient interview is part of a larger constellation of activities related to professional and patient communication. Communication is an integral part of every pharmacist’s job responsibilities, and they have to communicate effectively with a wide range of stakeholders, ranging from patients to peer pharmacists, technicians and support personnel, supervisors, prescribers, other health care professionals, personnel from health insurance companies and pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs), among others. Yet, instructing students on proper communication is challenging. Even when content and underlying theory of communication are properly presented, simulating real-world scenarios and advancing students’ actual skills beyond content knowledge is paramount. In addition to the aforementioned, the text features additional chapters on patient interviewing in different practice settings and at different levels, all with similar overarching goals, but with unique context-specific situations, so that students can acquire a greater appreciation for acquiring data from patients under varying conditions.
In addition to these, the text provides several chapters on counseling patients, ranging from the more “standard” scenario to those in which the patient may be resistant to care and/or advice from health professionals. This and all other communication encounters require empathy; and while empathy is featured in other areas of the book, there is a specific chapter in the text on experiencing and properly conveying empathy to patients. The text also features two chapters on communicating and effectively treating patients who might be different from you and exercises related to cultural awareness. There are chapters on using tools to assist with the patient data collection process, as well as a highly informative chapter on communicating with patients following the commission of an error. These are potentially highly charged situations where mishandling the situation could result in adverse patient outcomes and secondarily the loss of patient trust, patient patronage, and even litigation and/or professional licensure sanctions. In these and myriad other types of patient care scenarios, motivational interviewing is an advanced communication method used to convey empathy and help patients self-discover their own needs for behavior change to optimize their health outcomes, and the text provides some enlightening activities to involve students in this form of communication.
The emphasis on communication is also seen in a chapter on discharge counseling, an increasingly important role for pharmacists who assist patients as they transition to different care settings. Communication with health providers is a routine job responsibility of pharmacists, and the text contains a chapter on communicating with other providers in two situations: one emanating from a drug-interaction question and another on communicating with prescribers who might be especially resistant to receive advice from a pharmacist or other non-physician practitioner. The text also features a chapter on debating controversial therapeutic topics, a skill that leverages therapeutic knowledge by also focusing on effectively searching sources to inform your position on a therapeutic topic and making the case for that position on behalf of the patient’s well-being.
There are other aspects of the pharmacist’s job where communication plays a role but yet is only a part of a larger set of activities. For example, participating in teams is becoming increasingly common in health care delivery, yet the proper functioning of a team is rife with difficulties without adequate knowledge and training. The text has a chapter on teamwork and conflict management. Sometimes, pharmacy managers/leaders must build teams to complete significant projects, and the text contains a chapter on the use of strengths-based leadership to build teams. It also contains two chapters where interprofessional teamwork are inherent to the task, such as in catching potential errors in a so-called mistake room and on speed networking, where one seeks to develop themselves to be the best health professional (and person) they can be. This is designed to help open doors to new opportunities in one’s professional career by properly rubbing elbows with highly regarded pharmacists and other health professionals. When networking, communicating, and debating others, there is always the potential for conflict, as well as when interacting with a supervisor, subordinate, or even a patient. In addition to the chapter on teamwork and conflict management, the text also provides a chapter on transference, which is more strictly defined as a situation of the patient transferring negative emotions onto a health care provider, but more broadly includes transference of such negative emotions from one person to another.
Pharmacists’ roles continue to expand, and this requires educators to pay attention to emerging opportunities and responsibilities. Being in situations where at least some diagnostics and triaging are involved, not to mention interpretation of lab and other data, the pharmacist requires some skills in physical assessment, and activities bringing this to life comprise one of the text’s chapters. Vaccine administration is becoming more common, involving pharmacists and increasingly pharmacy support personnel. The text addresses emerging responsibilities in the community setting with the understanding that these might vary from one state to another and from one organization to the other. In the hospital setting, pharmacists’ jobs and responsibilities might vary even more. As such, the book has chapters on sterile compounding and on intravenous admixture production verification. As the hospital is a place with a dizzying array of medication orders, discontinuations, changing of routes of administration, and other potential areas of misadventure, there is a chapter on errors in the hospital, notably how to handle but also how to prevent them, taking a patient safety culture and pharmacovigilance approach.
In many settings, pharmacists are involved in decisions that affect medication acquisition, including formulary reviews, discussing insurance restrictions and requirements with patients, and determining cost-effective treatments for uninsured or underinsured patients. The text has a chapter on formulary review, for the increasing number of pharmacists who will have the opportunity to participate in those types of decisions. There is also a chapter that allows students navigate situations where patients are unable to afford the medication initially prescribed and/or have a health plan that is insufficient for their needs.
During the writing of this text, the United States was still in the throes of the opioid crisis, and in light of that, the text has a chapter on handling controlled substances and recognizing and dealing with fraudulent prescriptions. These and most other topics in this text as well as other facets of practice are often addressed in the peer-reviewed literature, and becoming adept, even a connoisseur of the peer-reviewed literature has become a necessity for pharmacists. The text contains an introductory and advanced chapter on journal article interpretation and presentation.
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