Marie Rocchi, Associate Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
Marie Rocchi, Associate Professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

Marie Rocchi, associate professor at the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, has been recognized by the Association of Faculties of Pharmacy of Canada (AFPC) for her innovative work designing an online resource in e-Health. In June, she received the 2019 Janssen Award for Innovation in Education at the Canadian Pharmacy Education and Research Conference in Edmonton.

Rocchi trained and still practices as a pharmacist, in addition to her role at the Faculty where she applies her longstanding interest in technology and informatics to education and curriculum development.

Several years ago, AFPC, with funding from Canada Health Infoway, wanted to develop a new resource to address the critical need of better preparing future clinicians for technology-enabled pharmacy practises. Rocchi was a natural fit to lead the project.

“I wanted to develop a high quality, engaging resource that had something for everyone,” says Rocchi. “A resource with validated content and credibility with educators, but also something that students would like doing.”

Designing online curriculum for digital natives

Similar to a textbook, individual faculty members decide how to incorporate the resource into their courses; but unlike a textbook, the resource is free and can be updated and students have access indefinitely.

Each chapter of the resource, which covers a range of pharmacy topics such as e-prescribing and digital records, is highly interactive, featuring videos, polls, case studies and activities. Rocchi used gamification principles for some activities, as well as a variety of other evidence-based techniques, to keep students engaged in the material.

“Our current students are digital natives. They consume information differently than previous cohorts, and they don’t like a lot of text. I needed to look at ways to have them be motivated about the content,” she says. “There’s room for all kinds of learning, and technology can be used when it makes sense.”

The resource, now in its fourth version, currently has about 10,000 students from every pharmacy school in Canada registered. It has even been recognized by an informatics group in the United States as an example of best practice in online education.

Pharmacy practice and technology

Pharmacy, like many professions, is becoming more dependent on technology, and patients are also becoming more health literate, tech savvy and empowered. Rocchi says the content included in the resource helps students think critically about issues related to technology, including privacy, security and consumer health information.

“So much information is available, and it’s important to think critically and ask questions about how we can use technology safely,” says Rocchi. “The goal is to have positive health outcomes for our patients.”

Rocchi plans to expand the resource over the next several years, including promoting the interprofessional section for medical and nursing schools, growing its use among community pharmacists and even sharing the platform so that other faculties can customize the topics available.

“I had two goals when I started with this resource – to create something that people would want to use and to show people what was possible with online education,” says Rocchi. “It’s been so validating and humbling to have my work recognized. It’s been the most rewarding and interesting work I’ve done, and it’s where my career path was leading me.”

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