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The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand delivers learning to pharmacists and technicians across the country

The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand is a professional, membership based association representing pharmacists and technicians in all areas of pharmacy practice throughout New Zealand.

PSNZ is the only accredited organisation delivering pre-registration intern training for newly qualified pharmacists, recertification programmes for existing pharmacists as well as continuing professional development for members. The Society also provides additional training and education to support healthcare learning for pharmacies and their wider staff. PSNZ acts as an advocacy body and offers its members ongoing guidance, information and support.

The Challenge

There has been an increasing focus on education and training for the pharmacy industry over recent years, and the Pharmaceutical Society had a few drivers for moving to an online learning platform. Firstly, the regulatory body which sets the standards of practice, the Pharmacy Council, requested that online learning options be implemented into professional development programmes and, secondly, the Society’s entire IT infrastructure was getting an overhaul prompting the identification of a LMS as a necessary part of their technology ecosystem.

With a full range of educational programmes for intern and practitioner levels as well as specialised programmes for pharmacy businesses, blended learning was the only way to scale up to reach a nationally distributed target audience. 

Through a selection process, the Society chose to work with Totara Partner Synapsys and implement Totara Learn to meet their organisation’s future requirements. 

The Solution

As a membership organisation, the Pharmaceutical Society operates a CRM system, which was a new system implemented at the same time as the LMS. Firstly, the project identified the need for a seamless integration between the two systems so that all membership details could be automatically updated and allow single sign-on for members. This integration has helped to create a suite of connected systems, including the website, all in the cloud. Now members can purchase and access their courses online via the membership website and get automatically enrolled into their courses.

The Society delivers a range of programmes: an intern programme run each year, an accredited recertification programme for pharmacists’ continuing professional development and other training modules which support both individuals and pharmacy businesses. Audience Management in Totara Learn is being used to automatically assign programmes to the right learner; thus automating their administration processes.

Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand - LMS

Alasdair McIntosh, who has been leading the LMS initiative, remarked on the enormous challenge the Society took on when changing all its IT systems. Adopting new business processes and new ways of learning have been facilitated by the ease with which courses and learning activities have been set up within the LMS.

The adoption of Totara Learn has helped the team to rethink the learning design of their courses. College courses which had previously been delivered on CDs with audio recorded presentations have now been chunked down into a series of learning activities on course pages. Webinars have been plugged into the LMS to allow for a greater visual element into the live presentations. The quiz tool has also been used to create a ‘Practice Review’ assessment for Pharmacists as part of their three-year professional development cycle to enable them to identify gaps in their practice knowledge.

Reporting is being used to track course completions and the team recognise that once they’re happy with how things are running they’ll delve more deeply into the many reporting and learning activity functions on offer which will extend and enhance how they deliver learning services to their membership.

Their first course in December 2015 was a free course for all members around ‘Sun Care’ sponsored by the Health Protection Agency. This was a timely course because it was summertime in New Zealand, and also offered the team an opportunity to see what they could deliver and launch the concept to all their membership. Their new intern programme was launched in February 2016. Since then in excess of 100 courses and programmes have been added to the LMS.

The Results

The Society is really pleased that they have been able to implement Totara Learn and deliver the professional development programmes they need to support their membership in the context of a massive IT change within the organisation.

What has also been really interesting for the team is to see how the flexibility of Totara Learn allows different business units to use the LMS in so many different ways according to their needs.

In the future, The Society sees many opportunities to extend the reach of their education and training initiatives. Already, other related agencies and organisations are interested in sponsoring the delivery of further online training. The Society’s 12 regional branches will also be able to capitalise on the opportunities to use Totara Learn to support their own professional development activities.

Alasdair paid tribute to the support and guidance from their Totara Partner, Synapsys, and explained that the expertise of a Partner was absolutely essential to drive the project forward and help them along the way to achieving their goal.

Finally, Alasdair comments that: 

“The future is very positive; with Totara Learn we have a solid, stable foundation on which to enhance what the Society does and offer more education and training to a wider audience.”