One of our favorite bloggers, Dr. Erin Albert, wears many hats. She’s an accomplished author, educator, and entrepreneur who uses research gathered from surveying regularly and, luckily for us, loves to write and share what she’s learned.
Welcome back to the blog, Dr. Albert!
Recently, Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Indianapolis played host to their 12th annual Continuing Education (CE) Symposium for Pharmacists. It’s a very busy two day affair of live learning, offering up to 15 hours of continuing education credit for pharmacists.
The symposium is a big production and takes months of planning in advance. Eight months ago, when we started planning our annual CE symposium, we had just two days to deliver powerful programming for our audience. With such a small window of time to work in, what was the best way to choose the best topics and speakers?
Enter market research
Wait, what exactly is market research? A Google search yields the following definition: “The action or activity of gathering information about consumers’ needs and preferences.” As a director of continuing education for the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, it’s my job to conduct annual market research for continuing pharmacy education. We simply call our market research in CE a needs assessment.
When we conduct our continuing education needs assessment, our stakeholder audience is well into the thousands. We often need detailed feedback on what continuing education to offer in a variety of therapeutic areas and/or new drugs at our annual symposium, along with our other CE programs throughout the year.
With a varied audience—both geographically and in different practice settings in pharmacy and healthcare (including but not limited to: community practice pharmacy, clinics, hospitals, drug manufacturers, academia, long term care, nuclear, pharmacoeconomics and medical writing) we’ve got to know what education we need to deliver to our audience. And we need the information fast.
Assess your needs
SurveyMonkey to the rescue! In our annual needs assessment, we ask about professional setting and different medical/healthcare topics, along with information on disease states, new guideline updates for treatment, and other topics pertinent to all of healthcare (like leadership, percepting or mentoring students, the business of pharmacy and even pharmacy law).
Launching surveys can not only tell us which topics were most popular but our survey results can also tell us visually and instantly how topics ranked against each other. This process allowed us to bring the best hits back to our CE committee, ultimately letting us make the right call on what topics to cover and which speakers to invite.
When someone needs to make fast decisions to keep an audience and customers coming back, market research is key. When tight on time and resources, SurveyMonkey can be a conduit for quick, accurate market research—in my case, a needs assessment for continuing education.
Get even more tips from Dr. Albert on using surveys for assessment and research here.