The month of May represents a huge milestone in healthcare. For the first time in over three years, the expiration date of the public health emergency declaration for COVID-19 has passed by without renewing! And, while I am not naïve enough to believe that COVID-19 is no longer a health issue for many, there is still something surreal about the fact that the public health emergency declaration has ended. It is, indeed, a major milestone that warrants a great deal of attention.
Remembering Overflowing Hospitals & Uncertain Times
This is a milestone that reminds me of the momentous task thrust on our healthcare providers these past years. I am reminded of the overflowing hospitals and the images of makeshift patient care spaces that popped up in parking lots across the country. On a personal level, I am reminded of the home oxygen unit that sat in our living room for months as my otherwise healthy wife struggled to recover and maintain appropriate saturation levels. I remember the uncertainty of what a positive swab might mean for our young toddler who could not understand what was happening. I remember the struggles in grasping for a medical answer: the theories that peaked, only to fizzle into the growing abyss of chaotic informational garbage. I remember the confusion that patients had as they read about these theories on social media and were looking to their pharmacists for something concrete and actionable.
Our Role As A Continuing Education Provider In The Pharmacy Industry
As a CE provider, we quickly realized that our company was facing an unprecedented need for quick, concise, and reliable information about COVID-19. Moreover, this information was seemingly changing by the day.
Our usual processes and timelines simply were no longer adequate for this shifting need. Very early on, the concept of the “weekly dose” was born, with the intention of sharing the very latest in COVID-19 developments. We pulled together some of the brightest minds in the country, many of whom were quite literally paving the way on the immunization front. We pulled in infectious disease specialists.
We pulled in a Spanish language expert to help pharmacists and technicians alike address the immediate needs of our nation’s Spanish-speaking population. On multiple occasions, we worked with faculty members to re-work programs when guidance changed, making yesterday’s program obsolete.
With the introduction of a novel vaccine, the need for more qualified immunizers was immediate. And, while pharmacists across the country stepped up in masses to meet the need, it was often not enough to meet the growing line of patients filing down the aisles in chairs spaced six feet apart. It was a real and jarring image.
Pharmacy Technicians Immunizing
In some states, pharmacy technicians had already been successfully immunizing prior to the pandemic. On a federal level, that skill was quickly recognized, and provisions were made to permit technician immunization with defined training pieces in place. Our team again quickly worked with industry leaders to develop one of the most agile training programs in the country for pharmacy technician immunization training, pairing the technician with an onsite pharmacist mentor and preceptor.
Some state boards around the country have recognized that value and have subsequently moved to implement policies making these provisions a permanent part of state practices. With these provisions extended through 2024, the opportunity for other states to join the growing trend is encouraging.
Adapting In The Pharmacy
Our healthcare heroes on the front line pristinely shifted and adapted to the changes. Protocols changed. Quarantine guidelines changed. Best treatment practices changed. You name it. It likely changed at some point. All of this was happening amidst unprecedented volume in our nation’s hospitals and pharmacies, many of which were already operating at critical staffing levels. YOU are, without a doubt, healthcare heroes!
This month marks a wonderful milestone to reflect on what that means. You may never know what lives were saved by the tireless administration of vaccines. You may never know what tragedies were avoided simply by helping patients distinguish the known from the unknown, fact from fiction, and safe from dangerous information. For this, we are honored to have supported you in a small way by being a reliable and consistent source of information.
In many ways, COVID-19 underscored and highlighted a claim that I continually make to our leadership teams: we are offering so much more than the opportunity to “check the box” and meet state regulatory requirements for continuing education.
More Than Just CE for Pharmacy Workers
PharmCon freeCE is so much more. It is current, relevant information that professionals immediately put into practice. And, we are honored to be a part of every member’s arsenal of tools, whether that be in fighting back against COVID-19, the opioid crisis, professional burnout, or whatever lies beyond the next bend. We stand with you!
The public health emergency has expired! Take the time to celebrate that fact with your team. You are truly lifesaving heroes. Celebrate!