How to Make the Most of Your Community Rotation

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers February 2016

Here are 3 ways to make the most of your community rotation experience.

Many pharmacy students work part-time as interns, often in community pharmacies, during their schooling. In fact, due to extensive requirements for pharmacy intern hours, students have had ample experience in the community setting by the time they enter their fourth year of pharmacy school. For this reason, some students may find their community advanced pharmacy practice experience rotation to be mundane.

I was fortunate enough to have had a positive experience that has contributed significantly to my confidence in becoming a strong future pharmacist. As a current fourth-year student, I had the pleasure of having David Jones, PharmD, as a preceptor at Walgreens Pharmacy in Evans, Georgia. From the very beginning, Dr. Jones made sure that his goal as a preceptor was for me to get the most out of this rotation.

My responsibilities included offering to counsel all patients on new medication or OTC consults, assisting the technicians with filling prescriptions, administering immunizations, performing medication therapy management with my preceptor, and learning about all verification steps. Knowing and understanding my role as an advanced pharmacy practice experience student from the start helped me to work on developing these skills throughout the 5-week rotation. I also had the opportunity to help technicians deliver medications to local nursing homes.

Prior to the deliveries, I took time to review each patient’s medications so that I could counsel or answer any questions in person. The appreciation from the nursing home residents made it such a rewarding experience that it truly piqued and confirmed my interest in ambulatory care and geriatrics.

I was also fortunate to have the appropriate guidance at a store that was not considered high volume, giving me enough time to be detail-oriented with each task. Even if you are placed in a very busy store, be proactive in your interactions with the preceptor and seek out as many learning opportunities as you can.

Despite what you might expect going into it, there are many ways to make the most of your community rotation experience. Here is a quick guide:

1. Ask questions.

As fourth-year interns, it is crucial to actively learn about all aspects of the filling process. If there is an issue with a medication, instead of telling the pharmacist about it, ask how you can resolve the issue. Ask your preceptor to teach you how to work through any rejections or drug utilization review rejections. Now is the time to practice being a pharmacist, while still under the supervision of your preceptor.

2. Offer to counsel.

In many states, pharmacists or pharmacy interns are required to offer counseling to any patient starting new medications. While on rotations, be aware of all tasks occurring in the pharmacy. If you see that a patient will be picking up a new medication, use a drug information resource to determine major counseling points. Review the patient’s current medication list to see if there are any possible interactions, and discuss them with your preceptor. When the patient comes to pick up the prescription, educate him or her on administration and possible adverse effects to look out for.

This will help you both practice communication skills and retain vital information, while also benefiting the patient.

3. Check out the OTC aisle.

A key component to being a well-rounded community pharmacist is to know about both prescription and OTC medications. During the first couple days of your rotation, ask your preceptor if you can spend some time in the OTC section so that you can familiarize yourself with the various medications and their locations. Make yourself a chart with symptoms/disease states and age groups and fill it in with the appropriate recommended agents. Strive to gain enough confidence to make your own recommendations if a patient approaches the consultation window.

Many other projects and assignments can be effective learning tools during a community pharmacy rotation. Use this time wisely, and continue to think of ways to make yourself a stronger practitioner in the future.

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