Care + Career

      Resources, news and fun for NHA certification candidates and alumni.

      New CE series provides latest developments in trending medication topics

      Pharmacy news has recently hit major media outlets. From prescription drug prices to the opioid epidemic, all you need to do is turn on the TV to see that these topics aren't only impacting the healthcare community. But what, as healthcare professionals, do we need to know and do? 

      Information in this series may be beneficial to those working in the pharmacy space, hospitals or in medical offices.


      At NHA, we strive to bring you the latest information you need to succeed in your healthcare career. We know that in healthcare, changes are happening fast, which is why NHA requires Continuing Education (CE) credits to maintain certification. We work with some of the industry's top experts to author CE content and provide you access to the information you need to know now.

      In our latest CE series, Melissa Ernzen, Pharm.D., CDE shares the latest developments and insights into major medication topics that are especially relevant now. 

      About the Series

      This series includes some of the most timely and relevant medication topics in the health industry today. You'll discover newly approved cardiovascular and endocrinology medications, learn what is being done to assist those that cannot afford their medications, and learn measures that are being instituted to combat the opioid crisis.

      • Endocrinology Medication Update (2 CE Credits)
      • Cardiovascular Medication Update (2 CE Credits)
      • High Cost Medications (2 CE Credits)
      • Opioid Crisis (2 CE Credits)

      Topics covered in the articles include:

      •  Hypertension and new medications approved to treat high blood pressure.
      •  Cholesterol-lowering medications recently approved for marketing.
      •  The risk of a venous thromboembolism and new medications approved to prevent them.
      •  Combination medications approved to treat diabetes.
      •  New medications approved to treat hyperparathyroidism and hypoparathyroidism.
      •  Alternatives available for high-cost medications.
      •  The benefits of high-cost medications over cheaper alternatives.
      •  The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and what information it collects
      •  Naloxone and how it works to prevent opioid overdose 



      About the Author

      Ernzen, Melissa 2015

      Melissa Ernzen, Pharm.D., CDE graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 1999. In 2015, she completed the requirements to become a Certified Diabetes Educator. She has been employed with Mercy Family Pharmacy since graduation.

      Currently, Ernzen divides her time working as a staff pharmacist at Mercy Family Pharmacy and providing medication therapy management. She is also contracted through Mercy Family Pharmacy with Crescent Community Health Center, where she provides Diabetes Education to the 450 Diabetic patients that Crescent serves. She is currently a member of the Iowa Pharmacy Association, Dubuque Area Pharmacy Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

      Below, Ernzen shares some additional details and insight about her "Updates on Current Pharmacy Topics" CE series.

      What do you hope certification holders will gain from this series?

      I hope certification holders will become familiar with new medications that have recently been approved to treat endocrinology diseases. They will also become familiar with new medications that have recently been approved for cardiovascular diseases. The certification holder will gain knowledge on high cost medications and how it affects the patient, the pharmacy and overall healthcare costs. I also hope they'll gain new insight into the opioid crisis — how it's growing and what measures are being implemented to combat it.

      What is the role of the pharmacist in today’s healthcare environment?

      The pharmacist plays a vital part in today's healthcare environment not only in their clinical role, but also as a link between the patient and the prescriber. For example, prescribers could oftentimes be unaware if a patient is not taking their medications due to cost. This is where the pharmacist can help recommend cost-saving medications when a patient cannot afford them.

      How can healthcare professionals assist those who cannot afford their medications?

      Pharmacists can suggest a lower cost alternative to help patients who cannot afford their medications. This could be done by recommending a medication that is available generically or by changing the medication to one that is on the patient's prescription formulary.

      What safeguards are in place to help prevent patients from becoming addicted to pain medications?

      New guidelines are being put in place to discourage over-prescribing of pain medications for long-term opioid therapy. Clinicians should discuss known risks and realistic benefits of opioid therapy. The prescription drug monitoring program that tracks controlled substance prescriptions in each state can also help in over-dispensing of controlled substances.


      We’re grateful to have experts like Ernzen contributing valuable content in our CE series. We believe there’s no better source of learning than from the men and women who are actively working — and leading — the industry today.

      NHA certificate holders have exclusive access to our CE library with no additional fees. To access the "Updates on Current Medication Topics" articles and earn two CE credits per article, log in to your NHA account now.


      Before completing NHA CE, we recommend checking the rules and regulations of the licensing or regulatory agency for your state, in case there are different requirements. 

      Topics: Insider, pharmacy, continuing education, medication