Pharmacy Students With More Experience Have More Confidence

Students who completed more than the required amount of pharmacy experience had higher levels of self-esteem.

Students who spend above and beyond the required amount of experience hours in the pharmacy feel more confident in their abilities than those with less experience, the results of a recent study suggest.

The study, published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, set out to determine whether students who spend extra time outside of school in paid and unpaid pharmacy internships and jobs are more confident than those who only complete the required amount of introductory and advanced pharmacy practice experience hours.

For the study, P3 pharmacy students attending 5 pharmacy schools in the New England area completed questionnaires that assessed their self-efficacy and self-esteem. The students also provided information on their pharmacy practice experiences and demographics.

Participating students attended 4-year state universities, 6-year private universities, or a school with a 3-year accelerated program. Those who completed a 6-year program had the greatest opportunity to gain pharmacy experience, while those from the accelerated program had the lowest opportunity to work part-time in a pharmacy setting, because they did not have any summer breaks.

Overall, self-esteem was significantly associated with the number of introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) hours and paid practice experiences. Among students with a GPA of 3.0 or greater, the number of IPPE hours were significantly related with higher self-efficacy scores. In addition, self-efficacy scores were associated with the number of hours spent in paid or extended pharmacy practice experiences.

No factors were associated with higher self-efficacy among students with a GPA below 3.0. This difference in the benefit of experience among students with varying GPAs may be explained by the different strengths that students possess.

“Students who do well academically may not have as much work or practical experience because they are focused on academics and they may benefit more in terms of self-efficacy from practical experience than the average student,” the study author noted.

The results also indicated a relationship between self-esteem and the number of IPPE hours students completed and hours of paid experience. Students who completed 320 IPPE hours and those who worked for 1 to 2 years in paid positions had the highest self-esteem.

Additionally, the school where students attended was correlated with self-esteem levels, and those who attended a 4-year stat school in Rhode Island had the highest levels of self-esteem. When analyzed by ethnicity, African American students had higher self-esteem, while Asian and Pacific Islander students had lower self-esteem.

“Though schools provide 300 hours of practical experience through IPPEs, additional hours would enable students to achieve higher levels of self-efficacy and self-esteem,” the author suggested. “Whether IPPEs are expanded or a new requirement is implemented for students to obtain experiences outside of the IPPE program, the additional experience would provide important benefits to a student’s development of self-efficacy and self-esteem.”