Soha Ahrari - CAPhO Student Award - What I Learned

What a conference! This year’s topic - “Let’s Talk” - resulted in lots of discussion and learning. The theme of improving communication was really a strong thread that brought the conference together. 
Our opening plenary was Dr Kim Lavoie who went through the basics of motivational communication and set the feel for the entire conference. She brought forward sobering statistics on current “medication counseling” - 50–70% of all information reviewed during a clinic visit is forgotten, and 50% of that is remembered incorrectly. Most of us spend hours each week counseling patients on how to manage chemotherapy-induced side effects or how to take oral anti-cancer medications. And yet, if we take these numbers, we have to recognize that most of it is going in one ear and out the other. Luckily, there is a solution. Perhaps, instead of doing the traditional “information dump” (which I know I’m guilty of!) or even the teach-back technique, otherwise known as the “parrot-back” technique, we can really use our limited time to engage patients in a meaningful way. Here’s her advice:
  • If you want a patient to make a behaviour change, whether it’s smoking cessation, improved medication adherence, or weight loss, there are three key ingredients. 
  1. Being AWARE of the problem
  2. Realizing the BENEFITS of making a change - and this needs to come from within. 
  3. Having the CONFIDENCE to make the change 
If your arguments for behaviour change are irrelevant to the patient, no matter how obvious they are to you, they will not be heard or welcomed.
Later on the in the conference, we heard from many speakers who shared their innovative pharmacy practice sites and different ways they were engaging patients in managing their own care. My own poster presentation on the effect of breaking down oral anti-cancer medication counseling into manageable chunks aligned with what other pharmacists were saying as well. Bottom line: engage your patients many times, repeat yourself, and know that even when you don’t feel you got through to patients, the least you can do is make them feel cared for and more likely to reach out for help when they need it. 
I’m looking forward to continuing learning and growing with all of you - it’s so exciting to know colleagues across the country. Luckily, I’m continuing to see you on Twitter, and the conversation is continuing on (email if you want an invitation to join - communications @ where members continue to talk about ways to improve patient education, ask clinical questions, and share new ideas. 
I’m excited to see and learn from you all again next year in Banff at #caphocon17 !