Continuous Education
posted: 08/14/2009

by Susan Fehr, MSHP Education Committee

Are you involved in continuous education? Professionally, you are regularly engaged in continuing education to meet licensure requirements, but this is broader in reach. I’m talking about being involved in the pursuit of lifelong learning. In his “15 Steps to Cultivate Lifelong Learning” on, Scott H. Young suggests ways that you can develop a mindset of continuous education. The following are some favorites:

1. Always Have a Book
It doesn’t matter how fast you read; you’d be amazed at how many books you could get through in a year just by utilizing the few minutes you have between activities and at the end of the day. If you don’t have a book along, you are missing this chance.

2. Keep a To-Learn List
I found this concept to be particularly intriguing. We all keep a variety of lists - to-do lists, shopping lists, etc. We think of things that we would like to learn, but because there isn’t a list for learning, we forget. A list might include such things as: pain management topics, learning to identify birds by their songs, reading through the complete works of a favorite author, acquiring a knitting technique or two. It doesn’t matter what’s on the list, but rather that you keep one to ensure your learning is on target. Write down whatever motivates you.

3. Guided Thinking
Employ journaling or spend time in contemplative thinking about those things that you have learned. If you don’t think about what you have learned, you are less likely to retain and apply it.

4. Practice
Don’t just read about a skill and then put it on the shelf. Put your new knowledge to work.

5. Teach Others
By teaching what you have learned, you develop greater depth of understanding. On a professional level, consider mentoring student pharmacists or new practitioners. Share information gathered at a seminar you recently attended with co-workers. Teach a class on your favorite craft or a skill you’ve acquired.

6. Find a Job that Encourages Learning
This is an easy step for pharmacists, because nearly all of our jobs encourage us to learn on a daily basis!

7. The Morning Fifteen
Set aside 15 minutes each morning for education. It needs to be in the morning before the cares and busyness of the day distract you.

8. Follow Your Intuition
Your topic of exploration does not need to make sense to anyone but yourself. Choose to learn about something because you find it interesting, without any other objective in mind.

9. Unlearn Assumptions
Actively seek out information that contradicts your views of the world. Challenge your thinking.

10. Learn in Groups
Gathering with colleagues with similar interests, such as at the MSHP Annual Meeting, makes continuous education an enjoyable and social experience. Take a class or join a group.

You know what it’s like to go grocery shopping without a list - you end up, especially if you are shopping while hungry, with a bunch of items you really don’t need and snacks without much nutritional value. It’s amazing that you can spend $200 at the grocery store, yet have nothing for supper.

Does that describe your recent learning experiences? Perhaps you have attended some continuing education (CE) sessions because they were convenient or completed a free online CE program. Did you do anything with what you learned? Was it just snack food for your brain or was there something of substance there that you could share with colleagues or teach to a new practitioner. When you finished the CE, did you even think about the information again? We spend so much time in these activities you owe it to yourself to be purposefully engaged in lifelong learning. Start your To-Learn list TODAY!


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