AchieveCE is happy to announce that Pete Kreckel, a community pharmacist from Morgantown, West Virginia and crowd favorite among Pharmacy CE instructors, is going to be its new Continuing Pharmacy Education Administrator (CPEA) for Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
Pete Kreckel, RPh is currently the Director of Clinical Services at Nickman’s Drug Store, a five-store chain in southwestern Pennsylvania. Prior to working with AchieveCE, Kreckel has been serving as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Pharmacology in St. Francis University. He has also worked to provide continuing education materials for AchieveCE and other major healthcare organizations.
Pete Kreckel is a multi-awarded pharmacist and teacher. He has been recognized as the Pennsylvania Pharmacist Preceptor of the Year in both 2012 and 2019. He also received the National Community Pharmacy Association’s Preceptor of the Year Award in 2014. In 2015, he was honored by his alma mater with the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He has precepted 65 students from the area’s schools of pharmacy.
AchieveCE has interviewed Pete Kreckel to find out more about his practice and pedagogy.
Hey Pete! Welcome to the team. Can you tell us more about your background as a pharmacist and as an educator?
Well, I’m a unique individual when it comes to the world of community pharmacy practice. I work like so many pharmacists do – I work on the bench. That is what’s really ingrained in me – the work of being a community pharmacist.
Secondly, I teach. I’ve taught at St. Francis University for 16 years. I recently retired so we could move to Morgantown, West Virginia to live closer to my wonderful five-year-old grandson, my daughter, and my son-in-law. So, that’s where I’m at. I am very much a teacher and very much a community pharmacist.
I think the two of them go hand-in-hand. Although I say I’ve only taught for 16 years, the truth is I’ve been teaching for 40 years because every patient interaction we have is a teaching opportunity.
What appealed to you about pharmacy as a career?
What I like about pharmacy most of all is the patient care aspect of it. I also like just the entire general practice of it.
So many of our physicians–unless they choose family medicine or maybe internal medicine–are very, very specialized. You have some brilliant neurologists that can tell you everything about every Alzheimer’s drug, every Parkinson’s drug, every myasthenia gravis drug. Well, we pharmacists need to know all that. Our pediatricians are experts with antibiotics and attention disorders. We pharmacists need to be experts there, too. What I say about pharmacists is we have to know a long, long spectrum of stuff, but maybe not so deep. Other specialized practitioners know so much, but their attention is narrowed to a specific practice.
I also like the fact that you never know what’s going to walk into the pharmacy, and those multiple patient interactions are where I feel I can directly impact patients. That’s what probably made me choose pharmacy.
Can you tell me about the best part of being a pharmacist today?
The best part of being a pharmacist today is the direct patient interaction in patient care, and that’s what I really want to highlight with the Pharmacy News and Views, our new program here at AchieveCE. I think the opportunities to teach each patient something is the best part about being a pharmacist today.
I had a patient come up to me the other day to ask me about one of the new migraine headache drugs. So, I explained to her exactly how to use it and told her about the benefits. And that’s probably the best part of what I do.
So many of the patients have such little contact anymore with their physicians, but most of them come to the drug store once a month at least. You have the opportunity to really get to know the patients and really get to work with them. I could never work in a facility that didn’t have direct patient care.
Let’s talk more about your teaching career. Has teaching always been your passion? How do you mix your career in pharmacy and your passion for teaching?
Forty years ago, I was working for one of the major chains. I told my District Manager that I needed more technician help. I said if I had more technician help, I could interact with patients better. The district manager told me, “Pete, I’ve watched you work, and if you quit spending so much time with those patients, you’ll have plenty of time to get your paperwork done.”
I remember going home that night and I said to my wife, “If this is community pharmacy, I made a serious mistake five years ago by choosing this profession.” I was ready to go back to my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, to go and get a PhD. I thought, I’ll get a PhD because I really like teaching, and maybe that’s what I’ll do. Fortunately, we found a fabulous job in central Pennsylvania where I worked for 26 years as a Pharmacist.
But the teaching has always been there. An opportunity came up at St Francis University when one of my colleagues who taught up there for a while said, “Pete, they’re really looking for a professor to teach pharmacology, would you be interested?” I said yes immediately. I was interviewed and went against three other people with pharmacy doctorates. I do not have a PharmD. I have a BS in Pharm.
I talked to them and said, “What I think you’re looking for is someone who can bridge the gap between academia and community pharmacy. You don’t need another academian. If you want brilliant pharmacologists, I can give you names from the University of Pittsburgh that know more than I ever will about pharmacology, but they don’t know anything about the practice of pharmacy.”
I secured the job, taught up there for 16 years, and that’s always been my passion. To teach. I’ve done several presentations for nursing homes and all kinds of places. It’s always been my passion to share knowledge, because I found that the more I teach, the better I am. The more I teach, the more I learn.
I have 1020 pages of lecture notes from St. Francis University that I still keep updated. Whenever I get a new drug that’s available, I go and type it in, set it up like I’m going to teach tomorrow, so my lecture notes are always kept fresh. 1020 pages. I got a lot of material to draw from for these presentations that we’re going to be doing.
That said, I think sometimes that when we get academia over-involved in the teaching of our profession, we get teachers who don’t always know what’s happening on the bench in the course of a day. For example, just to torture myself, I watched a 1-hour presentation once on the Plavix-Omeprazole interaction. 1 hour. They’re talking about this receptor, that receptor, this pharmacokinetics area under the current blah, blah, blah. I walked away with maybe three points. One is there is an interaction in susceptible people for plavix and omeprazole. Second is it’s easily fixed if you change it to pantoprazole. Third is to call the doctor and get the prescription changed. That’s all you need to know.
Our pharmacists today are so busy that when they come home and they need to do continuing education, they don’t need an hour-long presentation. They might need a couple minutes on how new knowledge applies to your next patient. That’s what I do so well, because you know what? I see those patients every single day.
What drives you to teach other pharmacy professionals?
I think it’s my love of teaching, my love of academia and my love of the profession.
For those that are really interested in digging up some stuff about me, back in 1982, I wrote a letter to Drug Topics. At that time, there was a controversy: Should we have mandatory continuing education for pharmacist? That’s how old I am. They were kicking around the idea that we really need continuing education.
The head of a major chain that we’re not going to mention said, no, it’s really not necessary. He said, “I have pharmacies in states that mandated continuing education and I have pharmacies in those that don’t. I don’t really see any difference in both.” I wrote a letter to this magazine and said that that was nonsense. We need to be studying all the time as pharmacists and we need to brush up on our clinical skills. I went on to say in that letter that “if you can’t see the difference in between, come and visit me for a day and see why I left your company.”
I’ve been very passionate about teaching and learning. I can say that 15-20% of what I use in my daily practice, I learned in pharmacy school. The other 80% had to be taught through continuing education. I had one of my students stop me one day and say, “Okay, Kreckel, I give up. What did you learn in pharmacy school?” I’m glad he asked, because I got to tell them the most important thing I learned in pharmacy school: I learned how to learn.
This is an ever changing profession. It’s been said by a Dean of a School of Pharmacy once that within five years, 50% of what you learned in pharmacy school will be obsolete. I don’t know that the number is that high, but certainly you are obsolete after five years if you’re not picking continuing education. Certainly not, if you’re not getting what I like to call good continuing education.
Why did you choose to partner with AchieveCE?
What I like so much about AchieveCE is how they’re open to giving someone like me who’s passionate the latitude to put together good continuing that are really going to help our community pharmacists.
I like the attitude that AchieveCE has to develop programs that are very much dedicated to the community pharmacy practice. With my many years of experience, I feel like I’m a good fit to work alongside the people at AchieveCE. It’s also a good opportunity to work with a newer company looking to really make an impact on the practice of community pharmacy.
Let me be very clear: when I say community pharmacy, that also includes hospital pharmacists. Hospital-based pharmacists are community pharmacists as well, they just don’t work at a drugstore. When I say community pharmacy, I’m talking about practicing pharmacists who are servicing the larger community by getting involved in direct patient care. I think AchieveCE is a very good fit for them.
What advice do you have for the pharmacy professionals of the day?
I think pharmacists today are in a most unique position, especially with the pandemic, because we’re the go-to. People don’t need to schedule an appointment to see us. They just walk into the pharmacy and ask. So often, the prescribers prescribe medications that are so expensive that maybe patients can’t afford them. We’re in a position to make good suggestions for a more cost-efficient alternative.
My favorite alternative is a drug on pinworms. Pinworms, as many pharmacists know, are treated with drugs like albendazole and mebendazole that are $500 a tablet. We know that we can go out front and pull something off the counter called pyrantel pamoate. For about $15, we can already treat 2 people with pinworms. These are frontline stories that I have accumulated over the years, because as pharmacists, we are able to engage with our people that come directly to the counter. There’s probably nothing more important now than substance use disorder. I’m also involved in a very, very big campaign to make sure that naloxone nasal spray is available for our patients.
We are in the lifesaving business, and that’s what we pharmacists need to focus on. Everyone of those patients who come to us seeking advice, they need us, and we need to be experts for them.