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Blog: Infoway Connects

How is the Pharmacists-in-Training Project Similar to a “Barn-Raising?”

Posted on January 26, 2015 by Valerie Leung

When a colleague likened the development of the Informatics for Pharmacy Students e-Resource to a proverbial “barn-raising,” I was intrigued.

According to Wikipedia, a barn-raising describes the collective action of a community, in which a barn for one individual is built collectively by members of the community. And because each member recruits others for help, the favor would eventually be returned to each participant. The analogy was made by Marie Rocchi, Faculty Lead for the joint Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) and Infoway Pharmacists-in-Training project aimed at ensuring graduates are ready to practice in technology-enabled environments by integrating digital health into pharmacy curricula across the country.

Interesting analogy…but is it valid? I began to think about some parallels…

First, with the goal of better preparing students to practice in a technology-enabled environment, the AFPC-Infoway Pharmacists-in-Training project certainly encouraged collective action by a community of educators, students and other key stakeholders at every step of the way.

Second, like a barn-raising, a large amount of preparation was required and individuals with specific knowledge and skills were enlisted. In fact, the foundation for the e-Resource, the Entry-to-Practice Competencies for Pharmacists was built with input from key pharmacy stakeholders including pharmacy faculty. Then, to ensure that material within the e-Resource was relevant and useful, subject matter experts were recruited as lead authors for the content.

Pharmacy students also participated; six students, selected through a competitive application process, contributed to elements of the e-Resource such as virtual patients used to illustrate concepts such as social media and consumer health solutions in the delivery of care.

OK, maybe Ms. Rocchi makes a good point…and although the notion of barn-raising may be rare today, I now see how the Pharmacists-in-Training initiative perpetuates this tradition. But now that the e-Resource has been built, will members actually ask for the favour to be returned?

The Dictionary of American History reminds us that barn raisings are a social celebration that help strengthen the bonds in a community1…so it makes perfect sense to support integration of the e-Resource into Pharmacy curricula across Canada by creating a Pharmacy Educator Peer Leader Network (PEPLN). This peer-to-peer network aims to provide faculty mentorship and influence culture change…so that indeed there is a reciprocal opportunity for pharmacy educators and students to use and improve the barn that has been raised.

Read more about the Pharmacists-in-Training Project.

1Dictionary of American History. 2003. Retrieved January 09, 2015 from

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vleung 100Valerie Leung

Valerie is a practicing hospital pharmacist and advocate for the use of digital health to improve patient care. She is a Clinical Leader at Canada Health Infoway where she provides clinical expertise and support to a number of Infoway initiatives.

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