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Learning a lifelong journey for ACP’s new competence director

May 26, 2017

For 11 years, Pam Timanson helped shape the minds of Edmonton high school students as a biology and chemistry teacher. Her favourite moments occurred when one of her students would really grasp what she was teaching.

“I think you’re almost as excited as the student is,” Pam said. “There’s a sense of pride in the student that they worked hard, they figured it out, and they finally got it. It’s a feel-good moment. The best part of working with the students though, was getting to know them and building those relationships.”

Pam will now apply that experience to continuing education as ACP’s new competence director. It’s her first foray into education for professionals since completing both her master’s degree in education at the University of Calgary and her doctorate in philosophy, specializing in educational administration and leadership at the University of Alberta. In earning her PhD, Pam researched how teachers learn from each other in the workplace.

“I was extremely fortunate to work in a couple of schools with teachers who were willing to work together as much as we could,” Pam said. “From those experiences, I learned the value of collaboration and came to really value that type of learning. When I did my master’s work on workplace and adult learning, I discovered that there wasn’t a lot of research done on teacher learning and, in particular, informal learning. I also learned that type of learning with teachers wasn’t as valued as going to professional development workshops or sessions. I wanted to explore that in greater detail.”

As she completed her PhD, Pam also led a module of a course for Pharm D students at the U of A, focusing on qualitative research and how it can be applied in pharmacy practice.

“I talked about the importance of gaining the perspectives of patients and other pharmacists,” she said. “A lot of students, once they got a sense of what it was, saw what you could do with the information that comes from interviews. It can really give a different perspective on what they’re trying to do.”

Pam also worked as a program consultant and performed a literature review for the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The review focused on various teaching methods used in post-secondary programs within pharmacy and other professional healthcare faculties. The literature review supported the revision of the Pharm D program curriculum, which was recently approved and is set for implementation in September 2018.

In other words, she’s no stranger to pharmacy.

“The part I found most exciting was coming into the pharmacy world from an outside perspective,” she said. “I find workplace and adult learning in professional practices very exciting. Being able to apply that theoretical basis to a real situation is a new challenge.”

As competence director, Pam hopes to support pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in evolving their careers so they can grow as professionals, and have a sense of pride in their work and their continued learning.

“I’d like them to be open to a variety of ways to learn,” Pam said. “When I was looking at the competence program, I was excited to see that we do acknowledge informal learning and collaboration with colleagues. That’s huge. I come from a world where that wasn’t as valued. To have that valued, that’s really wonderful.”