Congratulations to Dr Lesley Braun and the Blackmores Institute team for winning the Contribution to Research, Education and Training award.
Many congratulations to the Blackmores Insitute team
Drawing on her broad experience in research and academia, the Director of Blackmores Institute, Dr Lesley Braun, is proud of her team's commitment to providing comprehensive education programs for healthcare professionals and retail assistants.
Improving health literacy and knowledge
The academic and professional arm of the Blackmores Group, Blackmores Institute, was founded by the board in 2012 to improve health literacy and knowledge through education and develop evidence-based solutions through research and innovation. A key objective is to turn science-expertise and knowledge into practical communications and useful and useable knowledge.
"The education team went through a major transformation around four years ago," says Lesley. "The learning and development, design and subject matter expert teams combined to produce and perfect clear digital and online education for a high quality and effective adult learning experience. New skills were brought into the team alongside some of the best practitioners around. The transformation and team are headed by Gill McEwen, who blended the learning and development experts' skills with subject matter professionals to build the magic," Lesley says.
Blackmores Institute draws knowledge from 19 universities; it supports 13 current PhD students as part of its commitment to investing in current and future leaders in the industry.
Although proud of all the education offerings, Lesley is particularly proud of the CMEd Certification program. This clinically significant, specialised, and interactive program is designed to help pharmacists deliver personalised healthcare integrating natural medicine solutions. CMEd is also Group 2 CPD accredited and focuses on evidence-based complementary medicine ingredients, common health conditions, and integrative care delivery.
"Pharmacists in retail are surrounded by supplements, but we know that very little is taught in universities apart from drug-herb interactions. They may not be clear about how supplements can work in a complementary fashion and the use of supplements for preventive health."
Lesley's passion for this program follows a national survey conducted by the Alfred Hospital several years in conjunction with Monash and Griffiths Universities led by herself and funded by the Pharmacy Guild and the government's Department of Health and Ageing. It examined what customers wanted from pharmacies. "The results showed that people expect more informed information and recommendations about products. It also showed that pharmacists recognised that not they were not well equipped," Lesley says.
Comprehensive educational offerings
Recognising this gap, Blackmores Institute created a tailored and engaging curriculum that was first launched in Malaysia as a test case that was very well received. Thus, it was brought back to Australia with a high level of uptake and engagement. The comprehensive course offers a blend of online modules and live virtual classrooms. It is delivered in two streams: the first focusing on CM ingredients including vitamins, minerals, and herbals and the second stream covering common conditions that present in pharmacy. There is an externally marked final assessment which enables full certification for successful completion.
A suite of educational offering caters for different professionals, including dietitians, chiropractors, dentists, and medical doctors, via the popular BioCeuticals educational programs, BioCeuticals Research Symposium and FX Medicine podcasts. Universities pass on only basic education, yet people want to know more.
Another significant educational offering meets the needs of retail assistants. Blackmores Institute created the first certification program for pharmacy staff, offering continuing education and professional development via their BeCertified program which was rated number 1 in last year’s pharmacy Advantage survey The BeCertified program provides education focussed on building the knowledge and confidence of pharmacy assistants to answer customer questions and recommend suitable vitamin supplementation solutions their customers. It is made up of seven pathways. Each pathway is a health category that contains four levels of learning. Pharmacy assistants hone their knowledge and skills as they navigate through a pathway. By the time they complete the final level of learning their skills have been refined from beginner to expert level. On successful achievement of each health category they receive a digital badge. Once they have completed all seven health categories, they earn their Certification badge.
"We know many people could benefit from complementary medicine products, but they may not be aware of all of their options. A big part of the kind of education offered by Blackmores Institute is to improve natural health literacy at many levels," Lesley says.
Ahead of the curve
A great deal of online education was already prepared and being delivered when the global Covid 19 pandemic began last year. This forced people to engage more with online education since fewer face-to-face events were going ahead. In this respect, Blackmores Institute was ahead of the curve and well prepared for this transition to online learning.
Lesley is incredibly proud of the team, saying that they keep learning. The culture of continuous improvement is constantly measured internally.
"Thank you, CMA, for this important category recognising that a very significant part of building the industry is enhancing accurate awareness via greater understanding. Myths must be dispelled, and the correct and appropriate information is shared with health professionals and the public. I hope that winning the award helps to stimulate further improvement and understand of the importance of education. I hope it inspires others to move forward on their education journey," ends Lesley.