After a long haitus I have decided to stop complaining about patients for a bit. Not that I've seen the light, but the current hospital I'm working in does not have a load high enough to make me angsty. Yes I've moved again. Lol!!
Anyways, there is something that I am compelled to bring to light. In case you're wondering, CPE means "continuing professional education". The doctors have it, the nurses have it, and the pharmacy profession (in Singapore) has just joined the bandwagon a couple of years back. Basically, we are expected to accumulate a certain number of points to qualify for renewal of our practising license.
In all frankness, I do not doubt the good intentions of "forcing" us (pharmacists) to get CPE points. Sometimes we need a little push to keep updated with current drug knowledge, else it is in human nature to slack off. However, I have come to realise good intentions are sometimes just not good enough.
Singapore, like all other developed countries, needs more pharmacists to run the pharmaceutical side of the healthcare system. With regards to this, our health minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan already said the ministry will look into hiring more foreign pharmacists to fill the positions. In the last couple of years, retired pharmacists are even encouraged to return to the workforce to help ease the shortage.
Somehow, asking the retirees to return to the workforce does not seem to be such a good idea. There are 3-4 ex-retired pharmacists in the current hospital that I'm in and most of them are just not competent, knowledge-wise. Common reason being they have never practised as a dispensing/ clinical pharmacist prior to this. Heck, there was one who is incompetent even though he worked in my current hospital before retirement.
Perhaps I should elaborate on how incompetent they can get at times. Let's name them TL and TS. TL never practised as a pharmacist prior to this. Always believed he will hate the job, sounds kinda like me, so he joined the drug companies straight out from university. When he continuously "latched" himself to me during dispensing sessions, I found out he was totally incompetent in knowledge. He had (I hope it's past tense now) no idea that aspirin, mefenemic acid, naproxen all belong to the class of painkillers affectionately known as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Heck, he had never even heard of the term NSAIDs. Had no idea Seretide inhaler is used to treat asthma; he claimed the only form of treatment for asthma was oral steroids during his time. He also had no idea that loratadine and ceterizine are anti-histamines, cousins to our all fave yellow pill, chlorpheniramine aka Piriton. What really peeved me during the times he observed me for dispensing was he never picked up any drug knowledge. It's like going for some class and not pay attention such that at the end of the day you have no idea what's been taught by the lecturer.
TS was the one who had worked as a pharmacist in the hospital and remained incompetent. Slowness aside, he has to refer to the pediatric dosing guide given to our technicians who are helping out with dispensing very frequently. There's nothing wrong with referring if you really cannot recall the dosing range, but I most certainly think it will be helpful to commit the dose of commonly used medicines ie painkillers, cough and cold medicines, and anti-biotics to memory. And he frequently uses MIMs as a reference. Any self-respecting pharmacists knows MIMs gives minimal knowledge, heck it doesn't even list all the drugs available in Singapore. He also has no idea what is a Ventolin evohaler although our pharmacy has it.
These are just a few examples. If you sit down and think about it, these are people who are approved by the Singapore Pharmacy Council for renewal of the pharmacy license at 2008. Obviously they met the 50 CPE points requirement. That means they must have accumulated their points through attending talks, conferences, and reading medical journals or articles. How then is it possible they are still so deficient in basic knowledge? I'm perturbed. We really should not be allowing people like them to continue to hold the practising license even if they fulfill the license renewal requirement. Else we can consider "forcing" pharmacists who have not been practising for more than 3-5 years to take a basic competency test before they are given the green light to start practising again.