Day 1 of testing

Hooray! Day 1 of testing for the student pharmacist study has gone with success. Only 2 minor hiccups, so in my book that is a resounding success.

Me after a hard days work at uni!

This will be me in a few hours – as I am off to my favourite cocktail bar tonight – it wasn’t planned as a celebration for the first day of data collection going well, but I am sure I will elbow a toast to that in at some point. Anyway, before I head home to put on my fancy clothes and enjoy a cocktail or two – I shall tell you about the hiccups!

Hiccup 1: Not really a hiccup more par for the course when doing research with human participants. One participant cancelled around 10pm last night. Thankfully this person is super keen to take part but something urgent had cropped up that meant they couldn’t take part today but they are free next week so have agreed to come then. Phew!

Hiccup 2: A rather amusing hiccup really given the amount of time we spent trying to avoid this happening. Basically there were some unintended errors in our task items – but to get why this is an issue you need to know a little more about this student study.

The aim of my doctoral research is to find out what factors increase or decrease the likelihood that pharmacists will notice dispensing errors when they are asked to carry out a final check of some pre-dispensed items. So I get participants to come in and “do a final accuracy check” which is basically double check of 50 medications and medication labels against a set of corresponding prescriptions. The medications are real (as we have real stock for pharmacy students training purposes) and the labels and prescriptions are designed to mimic (look very similar) to those that they would see in real life practice.  At the beginning of the week – before I started testing participants, all these medications were dispensed and labelled (and “faux” prescriptions) were produced by a fabulous member of staff qualified and very experienced in the dispensing of medication. A certain percentage of the items have deliberate errors in – the participant’s main task is to spot these. Next I asked two other qualified and very experienced pharmacists in the department to check everything that had been dispensed to make sure there were no unintended dispensing errors in the task set. Well, clearly they didn’t notice much to the other pharmacists’ amusement. I am pleased though as it just reinforces in my mind that I am going along the right lines with my research –  we just can’t spot errors / problems / targets 100% of the time.

So all in all I think it was a good start. Tomorrow I test 5 more participants, fingers crossed we have ironed out all the kinks in the testing procedure and it all goes to plan tomorrow!

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