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Using creativity can enhance your continuing competence

April 18, 2018
Pharmacists are finding unique ways to apply what they learn to their practices

Edmonton pharmacist Hope Yakubow first learned of the dangers of radon gas while watching television a couple of years ago. She then noticed more and more news reports about the hazardous gas and decided to learn more.

“I initially started selfishly due to concern about myself and my home,” said Hope. “I started doing my own research online. At the time, I had a friend who had lost both of her parents in one year with two different types of cancer, one being lung cancer. I thought there might be something about the house they had moved into within the last five years. Once I started doing research, I thought this was something more people should know about.”

Radon gas is produced naturally when uranium in the soil breaks down. It is invisible, odourless, and can seep into homes without anyone realizing it. That is, unless homeowners have a radon test kit.

After discovering that radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Canada, Hope visited the Alberta Lung Association to learn more about its radon test kits. While there, she came up with the idea that the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy where she works could help, not only in distributing kits but in educating the public.

“I took the opportunity and we partnered together,” said Hope. “We have a sign up in the store and information available. Often people come in and ask questions about it and we distribute the kits.”

It was only natural that Hope discussed what she had learned about radon gas with a colleague, applied what she had learned to her practice, and provided details of her experience in her implementation record as part of the Alberta College of Pharmacists’ required Continuing Competence Program. In her implementation record, Hope described the learning she implemented into her practice, why she chose to implement it, what her objective was for implementing her learning, and how she implemented it.

“It was a unique opportunity,” she said. “The process started with a way to help out the lung association and a way to learn more about this issue.”

A University of Calgary study showed that only five per cent of Albertans know what radon gas is, and that one in eight Calgary homes exceeds Health Canada’s acceptable radon gas levels.

Hope has installed her own test kit and found that while her home’s reading is under Health Canada’s acceptable level, it is close to the World Health Organization’s recommended limit.

“I plan on taking steps in my own home to reduce the radon gas levels even more,” she said. “You can’t smell it. You don’t know it’s there. It’s a significant risk, but it’s preventable.”

It takes one year for radon test kits to collect data. The Alberta Lung Association then analyzes the data and shares the results with homeowners. Hope is looking forward to hearing back from her patients about their results. She also encourages other pharmacists to help educate the public and distribute radon test kits.

And remember, the continuing education cycle for pharmacists ends on May 31, so be sure to complete and submit your portfolio by then.