Pharmacists, Pain Management & Learning

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How does one effectively educate practicing professionals on topics of great concern in healthcare?  This is a question that many clinicians try to answer in an effort to continuously improve the profession and the overall healthcare in this nation.  There are many creative and effective solutions that have been used.  One of those is through continuing education (CE) series where pharmacists can earn CE credits, which is a mandatory part in keeping an active pharmacy license in all states.  The continuing education series that I had the privilege of writing for was the Pain Management series in Drug Topics, in collaboration with University of Connecticut College of Pharmacy.  The article was written with and under the guidance of Dr. Jeffrey Fudin, and is the first article in a series of eight that are geared towards all pharmacy professionals at any point in their careers. The article, titled “Pain Management for Pharmacists: Concepts and Definitions”, can be accessed from HERE and ACPE credits can be earned through the same site.

The Pain Management continuing education series is to educate and/or re-educate pharmacists on the basics and the current issues of pain management.  The first article is on the common definitions and concepts of pain, as the ground work for the rest of the series where more detailed pharmacotherapy will be discussed.  As pharmacists, we have the capability to make a major impact on the care that acute and chronic pain patients receive from other healthcare professionals through interventions and understanding the reasoning behind the uses of various medications.  Knowing the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of pain medications and understanding the differences between the types of pain that exist can aid to increase the quality of care for patients and decrease unnecessary pain medications. 

Mainstream media within well-respected venues such as the New York Times article have helped to highlight potential dangers of certain medications when not prescribed with careful assessment and follow-up.   On the other hand, some popular magazines such as People have negatively portrayed pain medications as of late by perhaps sensationalizing views on the topic of opioids.

Especially because of this media attention, it is extremely important that we as medication experts understand all aspects of pain medication and especially controlled substances and help to educate ourselves and the public.  It is of particular importance for patients with drug- seeking behavior versus those truly in need of opioid medications to improve quality of life, and for those that are somehow stuck between a substance abuse disorder and legitimate comorbid chronic pain.

Continuing education learning such as this series represents a practical way to reach many pharmacists.  It gives pharmacists the capability to share their perspective with other healthcare professionals with a general transparency.  This wonderful opportunity to participate in writing prompted me to think like an educator and enabled me to learn the process of how such educational opportunities are unraveled to healthcare professionals. As our healthcare needs change, healthcare professionals must evolve with the needs of their patients and peers. 

I am grateful to Dr. Jill Fitzgerald and the other editors for the opportunity to participate in this series.  I also thank Dr. Fudin for giving me this opportunity to write and publish, providing guidance through the whole process, and believing in my work ethic. This was one of the best learning experiences a student could hope for.


At the time Pain management for pharmacists: Concepts and definitions was submitted, Dr. Kubotera was a PY4 Pharmacy Student at the Albany College of Pharmacy (Albany NY).  Dr. Kubotera is headed west to complete a PGY 1 Residency at Providence Health and Services, Providence Portland and St. Vincent Medical Centers in Portland, OR.


2 thoughts on “Pharmacists, Pain Management & Learning

  1. This is an important topic. i would also like to point out two articles that may be of interest: one was published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management in May 2012. The reference information is:

    J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 May;43(5):925-44.e1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.05.021.
    Consensus recommendations from the strategic planning summit for pain and palliative care pharmacy practice.
    Herndon CM, Strassels SA, Strickland JM, Kral LA, Craig DS, Nesbit SA, Finley RS, McPherson ML.

    Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois 62026, USA.

    The value of this paper is that it addresses educational needs across different practice settings.

    Another paper addresses core competencies in pain management across the healthcare disciplines. It has been (or will very shortly be) published in Pain Medicine, and is available as an epub before print. The reference information is:

    Pain Med. 2013 Apr 11. doi: 10.1111/pme.12107. [Epub ahead of print]

    Core Competencies for Pain Management: Results of an Interprofessional Consensus Summit.
    Fishman SM, Young HM, Lucas Arwood E, Chou R, Herr K, Murinson BB, Watt-Watson J, Carr DB, Gordon DB, Stevens BJ, Bakerjian D, Ballantyne JC, Courtenay M, Djukic M, Koebner IJ, Mongoven JM, Paice JA, Prasad R, Singh N, Sluka KA, St Marie B, Strassels SA.

    Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California.

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