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Advanced Physical Assessment Workshop

The MCW Pharmacy School and Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin partner to offer physical assessment training.

The health care landscape is changing. This evolution is offering new opportunities for pharmacists to engage patients to improve health outcomes and quality of care. The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (PSW) and the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Pharmacy School have partnered to offer Physical Assessment Workshops to assist in preparing pharmacists to fulfill this role.  

The workshop is a day-long seminar that educates pharmacists and residents working in the community or ambulatory setting to implement physical assessments during their daily practice. The first workshop was hosted in August of 2016. The event was so popular, additional workshops were scheduled throughout 2018.  

“PSW members are working in new team-based care roles in a variety of practice settings across Wisconsin. This workshop is an opportunity for pharmacists to work closely with physician colleagues to build physical assessment skills to work side-by-side with other members of patients' care teams in monitoring medication regimens and controlling chronic conditions,” said Sarah Sorum, PharmD, Vice President of Professional & Educational Affairs at PSW.

The training pharmacists receive at the workshop can also assist in better comprehension of the physical assessments provided in electronic health records when monitoring patients on the inpatient setting. The physical assessment topics are taught by physicians and pharmacists from the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The workshop is set up as a series of sessions that include didactic lectures on a variety of acute care assessments. After the lectures, participants split off into small groups to practice and implement the techniques in a mock clinical setting. The workshops are coordinated by Karen MacKinnon, BPharm, RPh, Director of Experiential Education at the MCW School of Pharmacy, and are hosted on the MCW campus in the Standardized Teaching Assessment Resource (STAR) Center. “The STAR Center is the ideal educational setting for the training we wanted to offer. The facility encompasses instructional space, clinical rooms to help practitioners learn in a realistic setting and houses a number of high fidelity robotic simulators that mimic realistic patient symptoms,”  stated Professor MacKinnon.   

The facilities were a key to the success of the program. “We were fortunate to take advantage of the Simulators that attendees could use to listen to abnormal heart/lung sounds. The STAR Center staff were incredibly helpful and thoughtful, and that was also a large part of our positive experience,” explained Ellina Seckel, PharmD, BCACP. Dr. Seckel assisted with the conception of the workshop and is also one of the instructors from William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital.

Participants believe it is important for pharmacists to have access to this training. “I think that this is the direction that pharmacy is going, to have these sort of services provided to patients so they have more accessible health care,” said Andrea Wood, PharmD.  

The MCW Pharmacy School will include physical assessment and diagnosis training as well as point-of-care diagnostics as part of the innovative PharmD curriculum to prepare the next generation of pharmacists to provide Primary Care Pharmacy Services . “MCW’s PharmD graduates will have the knowledge and expertise to practice at the “top of their license” and contribute to patient-centered care within a team-based model ensuring optimal medication therapy outcomes in concert with other healthcare professionals,” said George MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, founding dean of the MCW Pharmacy School. Dr. MacKinnon added, “while we are aiming to prepare the pharmacists of the future, we too need to ensure that pharmacists practicing today can also advance their skill sets. MCW was delighted to partner with PSW to offer this to the pharmacists of the State.”