Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Things are different

Winnipeg sunset, Sept 22/09

The world (wide web) is different.....

I had no internet connection this morning at work for several hours, interfered with my ability to answer questions, in the past I used to joke that I was "going old school" and using real books and journal to answer question, now, because of the amount of information available via the internet, and the importance of this information, I can not do my job to the best of my abilities if I do not have an internet connection. At this point I probably could survive without the library of books in my office! One of these days I'm going to have to act on my threat to move drug information to a beach on Hawaii, and see how long I can go until they realized I'm not at my desk in the hospital.

My (small) world is different......

Once I got my internet connection back, I quickly logged into Google Reader to see what I had missed in the morning and came across this article Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2009 Oct 1;66(19):1718-22. Update on the status of 89 drug information centers in the United States.

The last sentence of the conclusion confirms my experiences over the past several years, "The most notable changes in these DICs (drug information centres) were increases in the number of DICs focusing on educating health-professions students, the complexity of drug information questions, and the amount of time required to answer each request.

There are likely many factors influencing these changes, but I think that the abundance of easily accessible medical information is an important one. Rather eliminating the need for drug information pharmacists, it has amplified it. The clinical pharmacist on the ward responsible for 40 sick patients does not have the time or expertise to find answers to all the questions they need answered in a day. A drug information pharmacist functions as a consultant for these questions, and are able to search the for the most relevant information, and use their training as a pharmacist to come up with an answer for that specific situation or patient.

The number of drug information centers focusing on education of students is also not surprising, faculties are trying to prepare students for this information abundant environment and who better to teach it then a pharmacist who does this as a career (though the as the best "do-ers" are not necessarily the best teachers).

All of this turned into conversations with my coworkers about the internet, about information, etc. I realized that I am different, my view and perspectives are changing from strictly a "pharmacist's view point" to a pharmacist with a unique perspective on the role of technology in this environment. Now I just have to figure out what I am going to do with this unique perspective....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge Course

Course number three for me in the certificate for emerging technologies for learning is CCK09. I'm glad that it is the third course, as I have had time to learn about and use many different tools which will allow me to focus on more on course content. I've added a folder to my Google Reader for CCK09 feeds (Google alerts, blogs, twitter, The Daily, course website, etc). I already use my reader on a daily basis to keep up with work related feeds, so this is a great place for me to put CCK09 info as well.

Before I signed up for this course I read some of the post from last years participants and found that there was a common theme of feeling overwhelmed and not being able to keep up with everything that was going on. So my plan is to be selective. Though, I'm not sure how I'm going to do that intelligently, how can I choose the best info when I haven't viewed it all! Of course I have this problem at work as well, how can I provide an evidence based answer to a drug related question if I haven't review all of the evidence. In this environment I can go to systematic reviews, meta-analyses, clinical practice guidelines, and experts to filter the important information. I will have to find out what filters are useful in this environment.

I would not consider myself an "educator", but when you think about it, a major component of a health care professionals job is to educate (patients, the public, students, other professionals), so I'm sure that I will take away something useful from this course.

I have never studied learning theories, so week 1 has been a lot of reading and listening and browsing. Next I need to work on connecting and participating. I can now empathize with pharmacy students I teach, asking someone to participate when the information is completely new and foreign can be very intimidating. I need to remember this when I am in my comfortable drug information pharmacy world.