“I gained a skill and a change in attitude”: A Case Study Describing How an Online Continuing Professional Education Course for Pharmacists Supported Achievement of Its Transfer-to-Practice Outcomes

  • Pia Zeni Marks University of Waterloo
  • Brad Jennings University of Waterloo
  • Barbara Farrell University of Ottawa; University of Waterloo; Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa
  • Natalie Kennie-Kaulbach Dalhousie University
  • Derek Jorgenson University of Saskatchewan; University of Ottawa
  • Jane Pearson Sharpe Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration
  • Nancy Waite University of Waterloo


The convenience and flexibility of online learning clearly make it an attractive option for learners in professional development contexts. There is less clarity, however, about how it fares as a vehicle for enabling the applied, practice-oriented outcomes typically associated with professional development learning.

This paper presents a case study describing how transfer-of-learning strategies were employed in a continuing professional education (CPE) course developed for practicing pharmacists, called ADAPT (ADapting pharmacists’ skills and Approaches to maximize Patients’ drug Therapy effectiveness).

To gain insight into the extent to which learning was transferred to practice as a result of participation in the course, qualitative data were collected over a 12-month period from participants of the 2010 pilot offering of ADAPT. Participants reported making changes to their practice as a result of participating in the course, and they identi- fied three course features as being particu- larly useful in facilitating practice transfer: providing learners with (i) a vision of targeted outcomes and skills, (ii) support to enable them to attain targeted outcomes and skills, and (iii) explicit preparation for action.