If you’re not familiar with the pharmacy profession, it’s a professional career that requires one to pretty much go to school for the rest of your life if you’re registered and actively practicing by way of taking continuing education credits. Basically, it’s a way to try and keep you somewhat current with new drugs that come out, changing guidelines, new practices, treatments, etc. I mean, I get it. I see why it’s required and I do agree it’s a good idea since I do find a lot of the pharmacists I’ve encountered in my field are not all…competent. I understand not knowing the answer to everything because let’s face it, you just can’t know everything nor recall everything at the drop of a hat, but you should be knowledgeable enough to know where to look for the answer or how to go about finding it. You should be willing to keep up with your profession, especially when it’s in the field of medicine and medicine is always changing. Today’s drug might be old news next year and the future drug might actually turn out to be too costly and not impactful enough to justify the risks patients take.
Every state has different requirements on how many continuing education credits you have to take, what kind (live, home-study, webcasts, etc) and how long the renewal period is good for (how often you have to renew). Continuing education can be expensive and time consuming. In New York State, I have to complete 45 credits, with 23 of them required to be live and 3 of them required to be related to medication errors and how to prevent them. And I have to lather, rinse, repeat every 3 years. Sounds exhausting, right? Sometimes I wonder why I got into this. No one tells you this when you sign up. The funny thing is I didn’t go to med school to be a doctor because I didn’t want to be going to school for the rest of my life. Looks like I didn’t dodge that bullet anyway.
I’m finally working on my continuing education credits for the next renewal period and I’m trying to power through them and knock them all out as quick as I can since I want to make it a goal to finish them by the end of this year, even though they’re not due til next fall. I want to get them out of the way so I can say I did something for 2019. I don’t have a lot of time in my schedule to actually physically attend the live conference type ones held at schools and such, plus those are hella expensive and usually far and out of the way. So I use freece.com. I used to use the Pharmacist’s Letter back when I was at CVS because it was provided to me free of cost. One of the few good perks of working for CVS, I guess. But now that I’m at the hospital, my job doesn’t provide CE or pay for it so I have to do it on my own. A friend referred me to freece.com a few years ago when I got that godforsaken letter from the state board telling me my license renewal was coming sooner than I expected because I was one of the babies born later in the year that got screwed over and had to renew a year earlier to align with the renewal period. I had 3 months to speed through them instead of another year like I thought.
Anyways, that hard lesson is why I want to finish these early so I’m not powering through them stressed last minute. But I also found that for some reason, I’m not the type to spread them out throughout the 3 years. It would be easier on my workload yes, but it’s just really annoying to try and keep on top of so I figured I’ll do the same thing this go around by powering through them in one go again. I started last week and I’m already at 27 credits which isn’t so bad. Over halfway there in just 10 days isn’t so bad.
I like freece.com because it’s convenient and I can log in on my phone and get the live ones done virtually anywhere. At the gym, while cooking, getting ready for the day, driving to work, on my break, whatever. Unfortunately the home-study ones aren’t available on the app so I leave those for when I have time to sit down at a computer, actually go through the material and read because those have a minimum passing score to receive credit when you take the end quizzes to test your competency in the material.
I was familiar with The Pharmacist’s Letter throughout CVS years and I thought about getting that instead to work on my CEs but it’s a little more expensive than freece.com. It starts at $139-$199 at Pharmacist’s Letter depending on what tier you want, versus the $68.80 at freece.com when I signed up a few years ago. The current membership stands at $86 for a year which is still pretty damn good compared to the Pharmacist’s Letter and there’s always discount codes floating around too to help offset some of the price. Although granted, you do get access to more resources than just CE at the Pharmacist’s Letter (you can access recommendations, journals, charts, med guides, etc.) so it’s another you get what you pay for situation. But I’m using this for mainly CE requirements so I found freece.com perfect for what I needed it to do. Oh yeah, let me also address the elephant in the room. Freece.com is a catfish name. It’s not really “free,” you do have to pay into it. There ARE free CEs offered from time to time but you have to sign up and there’s not always room and there’s a very limited window in which you can sign up to join classes. With the membership, you can’t get locked out from registering for a class and you can sign up anytime. You don’t have to wait for the "registration period” to open up as you have full access to it. So I found signing up for a membership totally worth it for my convenience.
I do enjoy working on CEs regardless of it being like schoolwork. It’s less stressful than actual class and you can go at your own pace. And there's no report card or anything, you just have to be able to show that you’re competent in the material and pass. And although I don’t work in retail anymore, I do sometimes worry about not keeping up with the new drugs that come out and that’s where the CE comes into play to help out. There’s always a CE or two a month going over anything new that comes out and anything that’s changing in the drug world. It helps so I’m not mystified when it comes up every so often in the hospital because a patient decides they want to use their own meds because it isn’t formulary in the hospital.
Oh yes, if you’re not familiar with hospitals compared to retail when it comes to medication, let me get you up to speed. Different drugs are available in the retail setting as opposed to the hospital setting. In hospitals, we deal more with IVs than oral medications, since a nurse is usually administering them to you. But the hospital is also limited to what they can carry. We can’t carry every drug because it’s just not cost-effective. So the hospital has a P & T committee that usually goes over what drugs are best to keep on hand, which end up on the hospital formulary. Because of this, my range of drugs that I deal with on a regular basis has been condensed to a smaller list.
Which is good and bad.
It’s good because when I first transitioned from CVS to hospital, I worried I wouldn’t be able to do this job. Actually, it was one of the things holding me back from jumping into hospital in the first place. It’s scary to leave what you’re comfortable with and venture into the unknown. I was really worried I wouldn’t do well because I felt I knew nothing about IVs and “hospital” drugs. But when I got here, I realized that I did know a lot of them already because most formulary drugs are the tried and true old drugs that have prove their efficacy being around for longer. Most new drugs do not make it onto the formulary because there’s not enough evidence showing how effective they are just yet over existing ones for the broad general population. And the drugs I was afraid of not knowing? I picked it up quick like everything else you learn in life on the job. It just comes with time and practice. Now I know where everything is at the back of my hand and what to recommend most of the time when a nurse or doctors calls.
This is also bad though because again, because of the smaller formulary, you aren’t knowledgable about the new drugs that come out and you’re not always up to date. Back in CVS, I would see new drugs all the time because a patient would come in looking for it when their doctor prescribes it as the new hotness. We would have to special order it, and then I would have to look it up and read up on it so I could counsel effectively on it. This doesn’t happen often in the hospital as most drugs ordered are kept to the formulary unless a doctor or patient really insists they can’t take anything else.
So again, back to my point, this is where CE comes in to help bridge the gap.
Of course, not all CE is perfect but it’s a step in the right direction to help keep practicing professions up to date and current with most news and guidelines in their field. So as much as I hate studying and putting in the work, I do agree it’s an necessary evil. Besides, you wouldn’t want your doctor to diagnose you based on last century’s methods and practices, right?
I’m hoping to finish all my CEs before my birthday so I can have piece of mind that it’s all done. So that’s why I’ve had a lack of posts for the past few weeks. I’m trying to focus on powering through these, while still working on my gym and diet goals to stay clean before my cruise. It’s hard to balance all these with work life and trying to keep busy on my weekends off work to keep up with shoots and content. I’m also slowly working on trying to catch up with my backlog and post all the photos I’ve hoarded on my phone in the past year that I forgot to post. And also trying to not go out and spend too much since I still have to save and I still have to pay off a lot of bills along with my regular mortgage and school loans. Juggling it all is definitely a challenge. Sometimes I wonder how I’m doing it all. And sometimes I worry I can’t do it all because life does get pretty overwhelming at times. But hey, here we are. Head still above the water.