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What is Problem Based Learning?


91914 Problem Based Learning

When you walk into an average classroom setting, you will see that it most likely will not look any different today than it did several years ago. There will be the instructor who is droning on with his lecture, and students who are passively taking notes, if not daydreaming. This has become the accepted model of education in our society. Unfortunately, this is an ineffective method of learning and retaining information.

Studies have shown that no matter how engaging the teacher is, or how enthusiastic and well intentioned the student is, the time span for optimal attention and focus lasts only around fifteen minutes. Despite the long lecture, students do not retain much information. Current research suggests the best way to engage students is to “change it up” every fifteen minutes in order to restart the attention cycle. (1) What is the point of taking a class if you gain nothing from it?

Here at MK Education, we want our students to be successful in all aspects, both classroom setting and in real world application. Therefore we implement a teaching strategy called “problem-based learning.” Problem based learning is a method where students are forced to challenge themselves beyond memorizing technical information from a textbook. In this form of learning, students are given real world situations that they would encounter in a Pharmacy or a Veterinary clinic. They are challenged to mentally gather all the information they have learned and create a solution. PBL develops both knowledge and skills required in the discipline as well as problem solving strategies and practical information necessary to respond accurately on the job.

The defining characteristics of problem based learning include:

  1. Student centered learning: discussion is lead by students, they are challenged to work through problems on their own and create solutions by themselves.
  2. Small groups: students work together in small groups, reflecting the real world setting where students will be working with other professionals

  3. Teachers who act as facilitators rather than lecturers

  4. The focus of the group is revolved around solving a specific problem scenario

  5. The problem serves as a mechanism to develop problem solving and analytical skills

  6. Knowledge and information is thus gained through self directed learning

Problem based learning implements a revolutionary shift in education. The emphasis in our classroom is no longer on teaching and lecturing, but on our students actually learning. Through this method, students are engaged and motivated in ways they could not have been through rote memorization and note-taking. The instructor’s role is to facilitate student-led discussions by guiding and monitoring the process. This way, students are given the responsibility for their own learning which requires them to pay attention and focus on the task at hand.

Some benefits of problem solving learning include:

  1. Group work requires students to learn how to interact with others in the field. This develops professional skills needed on the job.

  2. Group work also forces students to expand their mindsets as they will be interacting with people who come from different backgrounds and have different perspectives.

  3. Problems given are aligned with real world concerns, such as “What would you do if a customer had a problem with his prescription?” The student is prepared to deal with such situations when he or she encounters them on the job.

  4. Students develop the confidence and level of comfort needed to succeed on the job

  5. Textbook knowledge is more easily retained when applied to relative situations

  6. Students are more motivated and challenged with student centered learning

  7. The method is grounded in solid, updated academic research and proven to maintain attention, drive motivation, and retain necessary knowledge and skills.

Through MK Education, we are confident that students will develop both the technical and analytical skills required on the job. In our interactive classrooms, we require more of our students than simply memorizing and regurgitating notes. We want our technicians to be able to use all of their skills and knowledge and be able to apply it to real life situations, so they will be successful throughout their professional careers.

Student Success Story: Candice Kopecky, Pharmacy Technician


082614 Cassandra, Patonville

MK Education would like to congratulate Candice Kopecky on her new job as a pharmacy technician! Candice was one of a small batch of students that was accepted in the Pharmacy Technician Program at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights, MO.

How did you feel when you found out you were accepted into the program?
At first, when I found out I was accepted in the program, I was very nervous. Excited, but nervous. I wasn't exactly sure how I would be able to handle a college class at that point in my life. I knew I was going to have to step up and start taking more responsibilities than I really wanted to at that point in my life.

How has it impacted your life?
The impact on my life from just this one class has been tremendous. Our teacher gave us a few "life lectures" on our little journey. Each one had a great impact on all of us. This class helped me make the decision to go to college, even though everyone didn't think I ever would. Being in this class and having a teacher that really does care about his students definitely helped me grow up and helped me dream bigger and do better things than I ever thought I would be able to do.

What opportunities has this class given you?
One of the deals at the beginning of this class was that if you pass with a certain grade, you get to go on an externship and work in a pharmacy and gain real life experience. This was one of the greatest opportunities I think this class has to offer. You're able to learn a lot while in the pharmacy and also do a little networking while there. You never know how far meeting new people can actually get you.

What did you like best about this class?
Honestly, my favorite part of the class was our instructor, Larry Frey. He made a huge impact on a lot of us and made us burst out of our little bubble that we had been stuck in our whole lives. He opened a lot of our eyes to the real world and wasn't afraid to give us the hard truth. Not to mention, he had a few teaching tricks up his sleeves that really did help us learn a lot. I gained more knowledge than I ever could have asked for in just one semester, real world and pharmaceutical.

What advice do you have for students taking this class next spring?
All I can really tell the students that are taking this class next spring is to just stay on top of things and have faith in yourself. At first this class may seem scary and like it will be the death of you but I promise that isn't the case. If you believe in yourself and have good time management, you will make it through with no problems. Also, if you don't truly want to take the class, don't waste your time. Dropping the class midway through the semester will have no benefit towards you. You have to have your heart set on this going into it. It has to be something you want to do instead of something you're being forced to do.

Medication Errors


Guest Blogger: Neveen Eed, PharmD Candidate 2015, MK Education Intern

81314 Naveed Post

National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention categorized the different types of error according to the extent of harm they cause. This categorization is known as MERP index.

Medication errors do not only result in patient injuries, but also are one of the reasons behind prolonged hospitalization and result in increasing healthcare costs of about 3.5 billion dollars according to 2006 statistics.  Out of 1.5 million yearly medication errors 100,000 patients die. Many of these adverse drug events are preventable and could be eliminated. Below is a non-inclusive list of consequences to medication errors:

  • Death
  • Permanent harm to patients
  • Temporary patient harm and/or prolonged hospitalization
  • Decreased staff morale
  • Increased costs to patients and healthcare
  • Loss of trust and credibility

Errors can happen at any point of the medication processing steps, it can happen while prescribing, and it also can happen while administration, and in any step in between, as well as technical errors. All healthcare professionals have to be careful and double check their work to assure that the right drug is given to the right patient at the right time and with the right strength and dosage form. They also have to be extra careful with sound alike and look alike medications because these medications tend cause a lot of errors especially at the transcribing and filling steps.

The USP website posted a scenario involving a medication error that happened at a hospital. The physician prescribed Lasix 40 mg, which is diuretic that is, used for congestive heart failure. The medication is stored in an automated dispensing cabinet (ADC) as 20 mg tablets. The nurse opened the correct drawer by selecting the correct medication and took 2 tablets out and gave them to the patient without checking the label. It turns out that the medication the nurse gave to the patient was Lanoxin 0.25 mg, which is a glycoside for atrial fibrillation and heart failure. The pharmacy technician who filled the ADC earlier had incorrectly put the wrong medication in the ADC drawer.

Even though the patient is already on Lanoxin 0.25 mg once daily, receiving 2 tablets by mistake makes that triple the correct dose he should be receiving. As a result, the patient developed bradycardia and became nauseated. This problem could’ve been prevented with the nurse checking the label on the medication when she pulled the drug out of the drawer or when she gave it to the patient. Also, it could’ve been prevented if the pharmacy technician was more careful while filling the drug in the ADC.

Patient’s safety and care is the first priority in any healthcare institution. Therefore, it is the responsibility of healthcare professionals to insure that the optimal care is delivered to each patient. There should always be safety checks in place at every step of the medication route to the patient. All healthcare workers need to realize and understand why the safety checks are in place and not get complacent or offended by them and follow through each and every time.




Preventing medication errors Chapter 9 (Accessed 8/10/2014)

Medication errors stats examples (accessed 8/8/2014)

9 Ways to Become a Better Employee


8614 Better Employee

According to Forbes Magazine, employees who are better at their jobs feel happier and more satisfied. These positive feelings stay with them when they leave work, and motivate them to continue being a great employee. Excelling as an employee also makes it more likely for you to get a promotion, a bonus or a great recommendation.

Employers don’t like to just give out extra money - you have to earn it! The best way to get everything we want is to give everything we got. Here is a guide to being a great employee to make you and your employer happy.

1. Be professional - In order to be professional, you must dress the part, arrive on time and stay for your allotted time and use professional language. Don’t look like you don’t care or type like you’re writing a text; and speaking of texting - never respond to a personal text message on the job!

2. Understand your expectations - Always be ready to take notes when you’re being assigned tasks and if you don’t understand something, ask about it! Outline your task and what the goals are so you know what efforts need to take place in order for you to get closer to the white light shining in the distance. Try to start task as soon as possible, giving yourself plenty of time to gather more information, if needed. Avoiding procrastination will also avoid trying to hurry up and hand in a half done assignment.

3. Have a positive attitude - Be positive inside and out. Start your day off by thinking and putting off positivity into the universe. Allow yourself to look at the good in situations rather than dwelling in the negatives. Dont make excuses, make solutions! Being positive is highly more effective in the workplace than being negative, studies show. No one likes a Debbie-downer, so dont be one.

4. Don’t be late to work, or early to leave - Maintaining a routine schedule not only helps you stay on top of your own efforts at work, it will also please your boss to see that you are responsible and can be counted on when needed. Someone who regularly arrives late to work, leaves early, takes multiple long breaks, and does not observe a regular schedule, shows their employer that they are not serious nor can they be depended on. It’s easy to mess up, and sometimes very difficult to regain respect when it comes to irregularity in time management.

5. Be considerate - Its all about respect.  This is something that is usually learned in high school, and it stuck with me my whole life. The quote is old but the message stands   strong. Someone that is mean, vicious, cunning, and inconsiderate will never get a good response in the office. Since stress can be at a steady high in the office, its always a sure bet to be forgiving and empathetic to others and their efforts. This will allow for a pleasant office atmosphere and a more productive office team.

6. Don’t say “that’s not my job” - No employer wants to give anything extra to an employee who works at his/her bare minimum. The truth is, in many different types of work settings, certain tasks fall through the cracks and can be applied to anyone or no one. The employee

7. Never stop learning - From healthcare to technology, every field is always growing and evolving and once you’re out of formal training, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of things. Its always a good idea to stay relevant in todays technology and techniques, you never know when a person will come in that knows more than you and has more current training. And next thing you know it , you’re saying goodbye to your beloved job.

8. Don’t hide your accomplishments - No one likes a bragger, but everyone appreciates a go-getter. Make sure others (including your superiors) know of any accomplishments you have earned, any initiative you took towards efforts with work related tasks, and help that you may provide of skills that you have and others can benefit from. Some may think of you as a “teacher’s pet” or “brown-noser” but your boss/manager will think of you when thinking of promoting within.

9. Be yourself - Just because there are a long list of rules and regulations to follow when it comes with office behavior, doesn't mean  you become a robot while walking thru the office doors. How boring would it be if you had to go into work everyday to the a group of robots? For most, this could get very repetitive and get extremely annoying. Go into work  everyday with the best part of you personality and work throughout the day with with others in a positive and respectful manner.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Nikki Peterkovic, Veterinary Assistant


81514 Nikki Peter

As an immigrant refugee from a war-stricken country, the odds were stacked against Nikki Peterkovic but this hardworking student didn’t let that get her down. After immigrating to the U.S. from Bosnia, Nikki graduated from the College of DuPage’s Veterinary Assistant training program as the first step towards pursuing her dream of owning an exotic animal wildlife center.

Nikki, who is a studying biology at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, has had a love of animals her whole life. Her  father, a former veterinarian for farm animals in Bosnia, instilled a love for animals in her at a very young age. In fact, Nikki’s first word was “dog!”

“When I came here, I was really different, and no kid wants to be different. I loved animals because they loved me - they didn’t judge, they were always there for me.”

Despite her excitement, the ardent animal lover was nervous to take this class. “I didn’t know what to expect, I thought I couldn’t do this but MK Education was so helpful. Initially, they guided me through every step and eventually, really showed me how to do things on my own. They even answered the phone when I got lost on my first day of class and spoke to me until I found the place! Everything they did was very encouraging.”

After completing her externship at Naperville Animal Hospital, Nikki accepted a position at the clinic as a veterinary assistant. She said the knowledge she gained in the class has helped her tremendously through her externship and now, her job.

“At the clinic, people are allowed to do the externship without taking a class but I don’t know they could do it! I was able to immediately assist the staff there and they were very impressed by how much I already knew. From my first week, I was given more responsibility than the other externs and I got a job offer before my externship ended.”

She gives her instructor, Christy Langwell-Millett, some credit for this. “I really enjoyed her teaching style and I learned so much from her. Christy was very approachable and made the class feel like a family. If she didn’t know the answer to one of our questions, she would find out!”

Nikki’s early success is a vital stepping stone in her journey. “I’ve always known I want to help animals. Running a wildlife clinic is my ultimate dream. No matter what I do, I know this class was a great step in the right direction. I’ve learned so much!”

She is one of many MK graduates that has received a job at their externship location. In fact, employers that have had students of MK Education in the past reach out to companies to ask for graduates.

To future students, Nikki advises them to not be intimidated or nervous about taking the program. “MK Education provides a great support team, the genuinely care about the success of all their students. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in the veterinary field!”

Want better grades? Try working out!


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Let’s face it- with work, class, homework and going out with friends, going to the gym does not sound appealing. It is so easy to just order pizza and call it a night instead. Most of us understand all the benefits of exercise but the only problem is, that enthusiasm does not always hit when your alarm screams “wake up and exercise. A report presented at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 57th annual meeting in Baltimore finds that college students who regularly engage in vigorous exercise get better grades. So how can you find the time and more important the energy to exercise in college?

1. Lose the snooze
Simple math is to cut out an hour of evening TV, and set your alarm to wake up an hour earlier - and don't keep hitting the snooze button! Exercising in the morning can jumpstart your metabolism and keeps it elevated for hours. The better you feel, the more likely you’ll be to make positive and productive choices. Getting up early sets you up for success all day long!

2. Cut down on social media
How much time does social networking suck out of your life?  Get out of your room and go workout instead. This is the best time to get your blood moving and using your time wisely.

3. Start with easy commitment
Choose a target level that you know you will be able to achieve maybe something like 50 sit-up every day for a week and so on. Keeping realistic goals, writing it down, posting it inspires you to do more.

4. Find an activity
Choosing a physical activity you really enjoy is important because not only are you more likely to do it, it also adds fun into your life. Try different types of exercises to figure out what works best for you. There are so many ways to be active besides going to the gym. Figure out if you like working out alone or with a buddy, or if you enjoy cardio or weights (or maybe both). You don’t have to pick just one activity - broaden your options.

5.Exercise here, exercise there
Many people use lack of time as an excuse for not working out but there should be no excuses for sacrificing you health.  Being a college student, most of the days are packed between classes, work and studying but there is always time. Just like everything else, you have to schedule time for exercise. Try to make it a goal on the days that you know are a bit easy going than the rest. Even 20-30 minutes a day would be something.

Our bodies are built to move. Exercise is so much more than losing weight and looking good in a bathing suit. It improves your confidence, happiness and overall mental health. In a competing world that is changing every day and is filled with stress, it is so important that students build healthy habits to change their lifestyles while they are in college.

Does Choosing a Pharmacist Matter?


792014 USNews

Today, few people make a careful decision as to what pharmacy they choose to get their medication filled, but more recently, conscious consumers are discovering the importance of choosing a pharmacy that suits their needs. A pharmacist is not simply someone who is trained is distributing medication. They are educated professionals who went to school for years to better understand the effects of various types of medications to best assist you.

MK Education strives to instill the importance of customer service, professionalism and knowledge about medication in the students of our Pharmacy Technician training programs to further assist in giving you the best experience possible.

Check out this great article from U.S. News on how to effectively choose the best pharmacist for you and your family!

How to Choose a Pharmacist (U.S. News)

When your doctor gives you a prescription, odds are you just take it to the pharmacy closest to your house and wait for it to be filled. But by treating your pharmacy like a dry cleaner, just dropping off and picking up, you’re missing an opportunity to really engage with your pharmacist and take an active role in your health.

“A pharmacy is definitely not just a place to drop off a prescription,” says Minh Dang, an assistant dean at the Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy in California. “The vast majority of pharmacy customers don’t want to just press one on their phones and enter in a prescription number. They want easy access to a real person – someone who has the knowledge to help them feel better.”

Want to know the 5 tips? Click here to read more!

Instructor Spotlight: Christy Millett


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MK Education is excited to announce that our July 2014 “Instructor of the Month” is Christy Millett, a veterinary technologist who has been teaching the Veterinary Assistant program at the College of DuPage for six semesters. Before she began teaching this program, Christy has been teaching in the veterinary field since 2006.

“I was absolutely thrilled to hear a Veterinary Assistant program was being offered at the College of DuPage. I was really excited to start teaching it,” she said.

Christy absolutely loves teaching the diverse group of students who attend the program every semester, “They come from all walks of life. Some are sure of taking the program, some aren’t. Some learn they found their life’s calling, others found out this is not what they want to do in a much faster and less-costly way than going to veterinary school!”

What Christy really loves about MK Education’s students are that they are so engaged in their work. She says they’re very interested in always learning new things, and she loves seeing them learn a lot from each other.

So what do students and colleagues have to say about Christy’s hard work?

“Christy was a great teacher,” says former student, Nikki Peterkovic, “I enjoyed her teaching style and I learned so much from her. She was very approachable and most of all, I could tell she really cared about the success of her students!” Nikki also says Christy made the class feel like a family which just made the whole experience better and more beneficial.

In their end of class reviews, Christy always gets great responses from her students. They learned so much from her to help them in their externships and jobs. Another student states that Christy was always willing to answer every question on a timely basis, “If she didn’t know the answer, she would find out!”

Bree Abbas, client manager at MK Education, who works with the College of DuPage states, “Christy Millett has shown great dedication to our program and most importantly, to our students. I’ve heard nothing but positive feedback and have seen first-hand how much effort she puts into guiding these students into the veterinary field. Truly, the essence of a professional!”

In the future, Christy plans to continue teaching and would love getting certified in dog therapy. She enjoys reading, writing, hanging out with her dog, dog training and of course - teaching and learning! Other than being a very skilled teacher and a veterinary technologist, Christy says her family and friends state she has Olympic-worthy dog-paddling skills. A perfect fit for a dog lover like herself!

MK Education would like to thank Christy again for her continued hard work and dedication towards the program. It is the efforts of people like Christy who truly make the program a success and bring success and happiness to all the students who pass through it. It is an honor to have Christy as the much deserved, “Instructor of the Month” for July 2014. Feel free to reach out to Christy and congratulate her!

Top 9 Ways to a Better YOU


62814 Ansar [Top 9 Ways to a Better You]

Who says you have to wait for a new year to be a new you? Start today, use these nine essential tips to transform into a happier, more productive person!

9. Declutter your life.
You need to get rid of all the things you don't need or that are not good for you in your life. Start with ditching clothes you never wear, don't fit you, or is out of style, and create more space to see the clothes you actually wear. You won't believe what's been hiding underneath the mess all along. Don't stop in the closet. Your kitchen could use a little decluttering as well. Get rid of unhealthy foods. Clean out your cupboards, and get rid of all processed foods like those containing white flours, sugar and unhealthy oils.

Good tip: If it has artificial flavors or harmful chemicals, it belongs in the trash can.

8. Drink like a fish.
I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating. It’s important to drink at least eight glasses of water every day to keep our bodies working properly. Water keeps you hydrated, eliminates toxins, and helps your insides stay fresh and clean.

7. Complain less, do more.
Studies suggests setting at least three clear goals per year. You should set goals that excite you, that are practical, and something with a clear end point. It helps to write your goals in journal or notepad so you're able to refer back to it, when you need to. This will get you believing that these goals can be a reality. Make the most of your time, complaining about something sometimes may take longer than doing the actual task itself.

6. Schedule a meeting… with yourself.
Set aside just 10 minutes a day for yourself to reflect and make sense of your busy schedule. Taking that time will do wonders in eliminating daily stress and anxiety and will keep you thinking straight thru your other daily tasks. Some people may meditate for five minutes in the morning to start the day off right. Or simply take that additional five minutes to relax before bed. Read a book that inspires you, take a bath, or drink a hot cup of green tea in a secluded area. That usually does the trick.

5. Make working out work for you.
Exercise not only makes you more physically fit and healthier, it also boosts your self confidence, mood, increases energy, and it can even help you improve other tasks throughout the day. Find an activity you like to do and actually want to do. Join the gym or take an exercise class, whatever it is- just get up and get your body moving!

4. Live a little. Love a lot.
It may sound cliché, but love is what makes the world go round. Not money. That wouldn't hurt, but what will hurt more is not being loved. Find ways to get more love in your life. Make time for the people you love such as your family, friends and significant other. Tell someone you love them. This small gesture can make a big difference.

3. Consume your greens.
Even though our moms have engrained this in our minds since we were little children, Vegetables indeed provide you with an abundance of necessary vitamins and minerals that help keep us healthy and energized. Stop making excuses and eat your veggies everyday. Doctors recommend at least five servings a day. And 99% of the time, they are right.

2. Sleep it off.
Most of us need AT LEAST eight hours of sleep a night. That’s a need, not a want. Sleep lowers stress levels and allows your body and brain to re-charge and repair the daily damage you put them through everyday. It also helps mentally and physically succeeding in reaching our goals. To make sure you get enough sleep the best way is to shut off your computers, cell phones, T.V.s, and anything else distracting you from peace at least one hour before bedtime. Prepare your mind to rest, so your mind can prepare your body for the next day’s events.

1. Take a chill pill.
Doctors say to take an omega-3 supplement. Studies prove that these fats found in salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts will give you glowing skin, will help you fight stress, and reduce swelling in the body. Sometimes we may not be in the mood to eat specific foods or simply eat only one type of food. Ask your doctor if you can take supplements to your food intake so you can fill the voids and create a more balanced diet and a better you!


What I learned on a client visit: Tips for class and externships!



Last week, fellow client manager, Bree Abbas, and I had the opportunity to meet with the preceptors at several pharmacy technician externship sites in Providence, Rhode Island and surrounding communities.  Since 2008, MK Education has partnered with Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) to deliver comprehensive pharmacy technician training.  In a state the size of Rhode Island, word gets out when something is a success.  Clearly, pharmacy technician training at CCRI has earned an excellent reputation.

We were able to visit chain drug stores, independent retail pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, and even an infusion pharmacy.  At each stop, we asked two basic questions, “How are the CCRI students doing?” and, “Based on what you have observed, is there anything you would change about the curriculum?”  And of course, we thanked each of the preceptors who mentor the future pharmacy technicians of greater Providence and provide valuable training to these students.

Over and over again, we received positive feedback. We heard that CCRI students were professional, well-prepared and eager to learn.  They have represented MK Education, CCRI, and themselves very well.

Our biggest compliments came though, when we discovered that CCRI pharmacy technician students were being hired by the preceptors.  One student had been hired by a Walgreens in Warwick, and two students have just been hired by the VA Hospital.  What a great testament to the student(s), CCRI, the instructor, and the curriculum!

For students, it is important to consider the externship as a stepping stone to employment. Externships in reality are long-term job interviews.  Students should treat their preceptor as a potential employer.

Tips for students:

  1. Be punctual
  2. Be ready to learn.
  3. Ask intelligent questions.
  4. Conduct yourself professionally.
  5. Have a positive attitude.
  6. Always be willing to help.
  7. Smile.
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