Teresa Hennessey: A Lifelong Learner

Putting Her Pharmacy Knowledge into Action

This is the fourth article in a series of articles by CCCEP about the value of high quality continuing education for pharmacy professionals, the difference it can make to their practice and careers, and the role accreditation can play in ensuring the quality of continuing education.

Forging a Path

Teresa Hennessey received her Pharmacy Technician Diploma in 1998 and later, became the first-ever registered pharmacy technician in Alberta in 2011. She has been practicing ever since, in front-line and leadership roles in community, hospital, and corrections pharmacies. Currently, the Pharmacy Operations Manager at the Royal Alexandra Hospital (RAH) in Edmonton, Teresa is also an administrator for the Pharmacy Technician Society of Alberta. She attended the very first Alberta Pharmacy Technician Conference accredited by CCCEP in 2009 and has gone every year since. Over the years, Teresa has also used her varied practice experiences, working with national and provincial committees, to contribute to the pharmacy technician practice framework (competencies, standards, etc.) and help pharmacy technicians grow professionally.

In other words, accreditation can be described as a “trust-based, standards-based, evidence-based, judgment-based, peer-based” process 2(p5) that can assure all stakeholders that a continuing education activity is a quality learning activity and free of any bias. 1

“With peer-reviewed, accredited courses, I know that I can trust the integrity of the content and apply the knowledge I gain from them in my clinical practice with confidence.”

Tara Maltman-Just, B.SC.(Pharm) MS ABAAHP FMNM RPh, Owner of an independent clinical consultative practice

Making a Difference by Taking Initiative

In her roles in community, hospital, and correctional facility’s pharmacy settings, Teresa has always been driven to seek out new opportunities; personal development is an important job component for her. She also strives to improve practice as she sees it around her. A prime example of this is the work she did, early in her career, in diabetes device education in the community pharmacy setting. Observing a gap in patients’ understanding, Teresa knew that pharmacy technicians could help. Learning as much as she could about the area, she developed materials and hosted training sessions, broadening the knowledge base among pharmacy technicians in the area. Teresa recalls, “This experience made me realize I could actively identify and pursue opportunities. I didn’t have to just sit back and wait for somebody to say, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?’ This was a pivotal insight for me.”

The Impetus for Learning

Working at the RAH, Teresa’s role touches on several different areas. Along with managing staff and general distribution services, she is responsible for the quality assurance of the hospital’s sterile compounding services. When new national standards for sterile compounding were introduced in 2016, this kick-started a learning journey for Teresa. She has been involved in clean room management ever since, keeping track of evolving practices and quality standards. Teresa asserts that continuing education is a regular part of her practice. She gives the example of the point-of-care testing that has come into play through the COVID-19 pandemic, remarking that she is happy to have enrolled in an accredited course on this topic and has found it invaluable.

Continuing Education: A Competitive Advantage

Teresa sees high-quality continuing education, (including accredited learning activities), as key to her job satisfaction. Over the years, she has felt it has helped her practice to her full scope, deliver improved patient care, and achieve the personal career growth to which she has always aspired. Reflecting on her career to date, she states, “I want to make sure I have that foundational knowledge base, so if my path does take me in an unexpected direction or an opportunity presents itself where I’m going to be introduced with a potential practice situation, I already have some learning under my belt and will be able to build on it further.” With this eager approach to learning, it is no wonder Teresa has found her life’s work so rewarding.