Hello, my name is Dr. Tablet, but you can just call me Tab. In this video, we’ll be following Aria as she plans and conducts a health promotion activity for her practicum, and I’ll be sharing some advice along the way. Let’s jump right into it! Before Aria starts her first day, she reviews the practicum handbook and recalls that she’ll be participating in a health promotion activity. Curious to learn more about what health promotion means, she does some research online.Health promotion is defined as “the process of empowering people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.” When we think about the concept of health, the World Health Organization describes it as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being” rather than simply the mere absence of disease. Now even though health promotion is focused on prevention and improving health, traditionally, our health care systems are oriented around curing disease and treating medical conditions. More emphasis can be placed on the prevention of disease such as reducing risk factors and taking more of a holistic approach with patients. As pharmacists, we have a shared responsibility for health promotion. We play a role in providing education, promoting patient well-being, and advocating for our patients and communities.After understanding the importance of health promotion, Aria can’t wait to get involved. But where does she begin?The first step in creating a health promotion activity is choosing a topic. Aria asks her friends what they’re planning and realizes that the possibilities are endless. Jamie wants to educate his community members about opioids and naloxone, whereas Dany plans to run a smoking cessation clinic.
This brings me to my first tip: when choosing your topic, consider the patient demographics of your pharmacy. Here are some questions to consider:
• What patient populations frequent this pharmacy?
• What are the more common medical conditions patients are presenting with at this pharmacy?
• What common questions are asked by your patients?
• And does your pharmacy work with any community partners?
Determining your target audience and their needs will help you identify an engaging and impactful health promotion activity.
Aria takes the first few days to observe the patients that frequent the pharmacy. She notices that cardiovascular medications are commonly dispensed, and patients often ask questions about them. In fact, some patients don’t even know what they’re taking or why they’re taking them. Aria believes that they would benefit from additional consultation and education, so she discusses her idea with John, her practice educator. John agrees that this is a worthwhile initiative.
Remember: it’s important to involve practice educators and the pharmacy team, as they have a good understanding of the needs of their patients and community. So the next question is: how will Aria address this patient need?
Here’s my second tip: Once you identified the topic of your activity and are deciding on your delivery method, consider the potential barriers faced by your target population. In other words, what might prevent them from accessing health care? For example, elderly patients may have mobility issues that make it difficult for them to attend in-person events. Providing an option for a phone consultation may be helpful.
Aria reflects on her patients and recalls that they come from many different cultures, representing several different languages. They also have varying degrees of health literacy, so the health promotion content should be kept clear, with a focus on using language that is easily understood. Visual aids such as charts and graphs would also help in presenting statistics or explaining numbers such as explaining one’s 10-year cardiovascular risk.
Before continuing, Aria talks to John about the various resources available at the pharmacy. John points out that Aria can make use of the blood pressure monitor, as well as the various printed materials such as pamphlets and drug information sheets related to heart health.
Aria is now ready to prepare her content. She dedicates time every day to researching and creating content for her activity. Throughout the preparation stage, her practice educator reviews the content and provides feedback. In addition, she also brainstorms ways to generate interest in order to reach her intended audience.
My next tip is to get the word out early about your health promotion activity. You can try:
• Creating an ad to display in the pharmacy
• Informing team members about your activity and ask them to help identify and recruit patients
• And if appropriate, visiting nearby medical clinics to let them know of your upcoming activity
Aria shared with the team that her initiative would be good for anyone who is over 40 years old, requires support with managing their weight, a smoker, and/or has diabetes. With approval from her practice educator, she offers both in-person appointments and virtual consultations. Soon, interested patients begin to sign up.
The day before her activity, Aria calls her patients to remind them of their appointment, what to expect when they arrive, how long the appointment will take, and what specific information they should bring with them. It’s always a good idea to confirm appointments ahead of time as life can get busy.
On the day of the clinic, she wears a clean lab coat with a nametag and ensures that the counselling room is tidy. Soon, her first patient arrives. Despite feeling nervous, Aria follows her pre-planned structure with confidence. John sat in on the appointments to ensure that she was on the right track and that she felt supported. With each patient, Aria takes their blood pressure and vitals, and reviews their lab results. Aria then calculates her patients’ cardiovascular risk, and provides education on lifestyle changes. Each patient is also provided with a handout summarizing the information so that they can refer to it when they return home.
My next tip is to be an active listener and patient-oriented throughout your activity. Patients are much more motivated to change their behaviors when recommendations and advice are tailored to their specific individual needs. Aria takes time to listen to her patients’ concerns and asks open-ended questions about their own desired health care goals. By doing so, she is able to provide individualized recommendations to her patients.
With every patient, Aria provides a summary of the specific action-oriented goals and next steps on a written document. She also follows up with the patients’ doctor and care team with any concerns or drug therapy problems that she has identified.
At the end of each interaction, Aria schedules a follow-up appointment with each of her patients. The next tip is to ensure a follow up plan is in place for each patient. Health promotion interventions can be a great opportunity to identify patients who require continued pharmacist consultation and support – patients may have drug therapy problems, other issues and could benefit from a more complete medication review in the future. There’s evidence to suggest that interventions that involve follow-ups with patients tend to be more beneficial than ones that do not. More precisely, interventions incorporating regular follow-ups were more likely to result in greater behavioural changes and health outcomes. Therefore, I encourage you to follow up with every patient. If you aren’t able to do it for reasons such as your practicum coming to an end, you can handover your patients to another member of the pharmacy team to ensure continuity of care.
As the day wrapped up, Aria felt like she achieved a lot today. On her bus ride home, Aria takes some time to reflect on her experiences. This brings me to my final tip which is to reflect on your experience—what worked, what didn’t, and what you’ll do differently next time. A core component of experiential education is reflection, as it allows students to understand their strengths, areas of improvement, and formulate a strategy for future situations. I encourage you to actively seek out feedback not only from your practice educator but also from patients. After an interaction or appointment, students can ask their patients if they found this of value or helpful.
In Aria’s case, after meeting with each patient, she asks them to fill out a short survey asking how effective they found the consultation to be, what they enjoyed, and what could be improved for next time. She also sits down with her practice educator afterwards to debrief and discuss the feedback received.
During this practicum, Aria gained first-hand experience about the value and importance of health promotion and developed an understanding of the opportunities that pharmacists have to better the lives of patients. That’s all I have for Aria’s journey. Now it’s your turn—I’m excited to see what health promotion activities you will embark on throughout your practicums!
I hope you found this video helpful. Thanks for watching. I’m Dr. Tablet and I hope you have a fanTABulous practicum!
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Lucy Zhou for helping to create this video and Garrett Tang for designing Dr. Tablet.