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Midwestern University Chicago Collge of Pharmacy
Guidance for APPE Rotations From a Current 4th Year Pharmacy Student
by Dean J. Brock, ICHP member
The most difficult transition of my life occurred when I finished the didactic portion of pharmacy school and began my Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs). The reason why the transition was so burdensome, was that I originally believed that each APPE would simply consist of a Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. rotation, in which I would learn what clinical information was truly important for me to be a knowledgeable and efficient pharmacist. I was wrong.
The truth of the matter is that each APPE rotation will have a different schedule and student expectations. The best way to be successful during each APPE rotation is to be inquisitive, proactive, and professional. Each APPE rotation will have one primary preceptor that will be responsible for the student’s midpoint and final evaluations. The student may interact with other preceptors throughout the rotation. Inquiring about the daily student expectations of each individual preceptor is critical for success. Asking the preceptor in advance for a template or outline for a topic discussion, in-service, journal club, or patient case presentation will ensure both the preceptor and student are on the same page for that particular assignment.
As the student progresses through each of his or her APPE rotations the preceptor’s expectations increase, sometimes exponentially. The best strategy the student can have to meet and exceed the preceptor’s expectations is to be proactive and optimize time management. There will always an APPE assignment that is due or NAPLEX studying that needs to be completed so the student should mentally prepare to be productive for the duration of each day of his or her APPE rotation.
Perhaps, one of the most used words during the first three years of pharmacy school was “professionalism.” It seemed like the advice that was given about being professional while on rotations was simply common-sense guidance. However, while on each of my rotations I realized that it was not always followed or implemented by students. It seemed that on a daily basis, students would be late, dressed unprofessionally, or using their phones for non-rotation related activities. While the preceptor may not directly call the student out on their unprofessional behavior, the preceptors are always watching and this behavior can negatively impact the student’s evaluations. Being professional is one aspect of the APPE rotation that is 100% under the student’s control; don’t squander this opportunity to make a great first impression of yourself and your school.
In order for a student to be successful on each APPE rotation, he or she must be inquisitive, proactive, and professional. Some APPE rotations will be significantly more strenuous than others, but if the student is able to strategize and adapt quickly to the expectations of each individual preceptor, he or she is more likely to be successful. Keeping in mind the sacrifices that were made to get through the didactic portion of pharmacy school, as well as the rewards for those sacrifices after finishing pharmacy school, the motivation to flourish at each APPE rotation should be colossal. ■