How To Prepare For Pharmacy Rotations?

Choosing pharmacy as a career requires so much hard work, dedication, and time. It is not like getting a degree, and you become a job-ready candidate. It is a field in which you gain experience over time. It is a continuous, growing career. Before you become a licensed pharmacist, you go through a pretty long journey of education and experience. To become a pharmacist, you need to have a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree.

As we have discussed to become a pharmacist, candidates need to go through training and experience the things in reality. In this article, we will discuss everything about how to prepare for pharmacy rotations. Let’s start with 4th Year Pharmacy Rotations:

4th Year Pharmacy Rotations

Pharmacy rotations are divided into two: Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPEs) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPEs). Students need to complete APPEs in the fourth year of the curriculum. When it comes to rotations, there are so many things you need to consider. It includes applying clinical tracks, scheduling off blocks, deciding about different hospitals and preceptors, etc.

After students complete their third year of the curriculum and IPPEs, the next stage is to complete APPEs. During the first, second, and third years of the curriculum, students need to experience pharmacy rotations during the summer break or winter break. But, when the fourth year of pharmacy starts, students are required to do rotations on a full-time basis. It starts in late May and continues for a full calendar year.

Students need to complete between 1520 hours to 1840 hours during the fourth year of the curriculum. The purpose of the pharmacy rotations is to provide enough practical experience to students. Students are allowed to select from a wide range of APPE sites located in six different regions. You may select a variety of rotations such as FDA, ambulatory care, infectious disease, cardiology, Indian Health Service, Poison Center, NIH, etc. Here’s what 4th-year pharmacy rotations include:

  • The first important thing in 4th-year rotations includes actively providing care for patients. Students are required to provide care for patients under the supervision of the pharmacist preceptor. The pharmacy student must complete at least one rotation in hospital and one in community pharmacy settings focusing on patient care.
  • The next thing is to review medication systems in the pharmacy settings so that they can make recommendations for its improvement. The pharmacy students must complete at least one rotation in hospital and one in community pharmacy settings focusing on medication systems management.
  • During the fourth year of pharmacy rotations, students also teach health and wellness so that patients can achieve a healthy lifestyle. Students also get engage with patients to provide optimal drug therapy.
  • Students can also participate in a residency track program for the preparation of post-graduation training. They can also participate in the global health focus rotations.

How to Succeed During Your APPEs

During your first, second, and third year of pharmacy curriculum, you need to go through Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPEs), but when you enter into the fourth year of your pharmacy curriculum, you need to go through Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPEs).

The experience in APPE will be different as compared to IPPE. During your fourth year, you need to complete so many advanced pharmacy practice experience rotations. Last year pharmacy rotations are very important because, during IPPE, you see very little clinical works. Here are some tips to succeed during your APPEs:

Ask Questions

You can avoid all your doubts by asking questions. You must not be scared to ask questions, no matter how stupid your questions may sound. Pharmacy rotations are the best way to solve all your doubts because, after the completion of graduation, you will be answering those questions by taking tests.

Carry around a notebook

You might don’t find it useful to carry a notebook during your pharmacy rotations, but it is worth it. You might think that you will remember all the important answers that you are going to ask, but carrying a book and noting down important things helps a lot. So, make sure you keep a notebook specifically about APPE rotations.

Study When You Get Home

Another useful thing you can do is study when you get home. You need to study what you learn daily from your pharmacy, rotations. The study part becomes a bit easy when you have already prepared a separate notebook for your APPE rotations. You need to focus more on your studies during APPEs so that you clear your NAPLEX licensure examination.

Choose Carefully

You need to carefully pick your rotations. You must not be picking a site just because of the preceptor allows you to leave early. This might sound great at first, but you must not do it. You must not forget the main reason why you are doing your pharmacy rotations. You are doing it to apply all the knowledge in the future that you have gained.

Preparing For 1st Rotation

During APPEs (fourth-year pharmacy rotations), students have to spend more hours in pharmacy rotations as compared to IPPE. During your IPPEs rotations, you will be observing, completing activities, and participating in various pharmacy roles. IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience) rotations need to be completed by students when they are in first, second, and third years of the curriculum. However, students can select IPPE rotations during the academic year, winter break, or summer break.

As we have seen, total hours students need to spend in APPEs rotations are between 1520 to 1840 hours, while if we talk about IPPEs rotations, students must complete 300 hours during three years of the curriculum. There will be six different regions available throughout the state. You need to select the site by going through a signup process.

During your first pharmacy rotations, your main activities would be engaging with pharmacists, caring for the community, and working as a team. The goal of IPPEs pharmacy rotations is to provide students practical experience and train them.

IPPEs rotations also develop students’ communication skills, provide students scientific knowledge regarding pharmacy, help them learn new skills, and develop professional attitude & train them to work professionally.

How Can I Impress My Preceptor?

So you want to impress your preceptor? Here are some tips for impressing your preceptor:

1. Be Punctual & Professional

It is imperative to be punctual and professional if you want to impress your preceptor. Your preceptor takes time to teach and train you regarding pharmacy in practical, so preceptors always like students that are professional and punctual. So, when your preceptor asks you to bring a lab coat, laptop, or any other item, don’t forget to bring that. If you forget to do so, it will ruin your first impression in the eyes of your preceptor.

2. Ask Questions

Asking questions shows that you are interested in what your preceptor is teaching you. You may find that your question is very stupid or silly, but asking questions helps you to solve all your doubts. So, whenever you are in doubt, ask questions to your preceptor.

3. Be Gentle

Always be gentle and kind with your preceptor. Being gentle and kind with the preceptor will build a good relationship. Not following the preceptor or their instructions will leave a bad impression. So, always be gentle and follow the instructions of your preceptor.

4. Speak At Appropriate Times

You must be aware of when it is the right time to speak and when it isn’t. For example, if you are in a meeting with so many health professionals, it is not the appropriate time to gossip or discuss any case with your mate.

How Long Are Pharmacy Rotations?

Pharmacy rotations are four years long. You will need to attend pharmacy rotations for all four years of the curriculum. Pharmacy rotations are divided into two: Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPEs) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPEs). You must complete both – IPPEs and APPEs during your pharmacy studies. IPPE rotations are for the first three years of pharmacy studies, and APPE rotations are for the fourth year of pharmacy studies.

Student pharmacists must complete IPPEs rotations in community pharmacy practice and hospital pharmacy. The selection of the clinical sites of the students is made through the class lottery system. During the fourth & final year of the curriculum, pharmacist students need to complete nine essential advanced pharmacy practice experiences rotations. In APPE, students complete rotations in different areas of practice.

The motive of pharmacy rotations is to train the students and develop their skills practically. During the first three weeks of IPPE, you will receive hands-on training in screening tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. Later, you learn more with the participation in weekly, local health fairs. During the three-year time duration of your pharmacy curriculum, you must complete around 300 hours of experiential learning.

During the first three years’ rotations, you learn the introductory part, but during the last year of your pharmacy rotations, you learn the advanced things. The last year of pharmacy rotations is totally experiential.

How Do You Prepare For A Clinical Rotation?

Clinical rotations help students to understand the pharmacy practically. During clinical rotations, students apply the knowledge they have gained from the classroom. Clinical rotations consist of the last two years of medical education. Here’s how you can prepare for your clinical rotations:

1. Practice being professional

You always need to be professional. If you want to become a professional, you will need to learn how to behave professionally from the doctors around you.

2. Study

During your clinical rotations, after having a long day, you should study more about what you have seen in the wards. Studying and learning more about what you have experienced and seen in the wards will help you to understand things more clearly.

3. Learn to Take Care of Patients

Instead of focusing more on what your supervisors or teachers think about your performance, you need to focus more on taking care of patients. Taking care of patients must be your primary goal during your clinical rotations.

4. Always be prepared

You need to always be prepared for your clinical rotations. You need to be prepared academically and mentally for each clinical rotation.

5. Ask Questions

If you are confused about something, ask questions. This is the best way to learn practically and precisely. During your physical exam, you will be quizzed with so many questions; hence, you should ask questions during the clinical rotations.

How to Save Money During Pharmacy Rotations?

Saving money on pharmacy rotations is something that students always look for. Here are some tips for saving money on pharmacy during the pharmacy rotations:

1. Live close to the hospital

The best way to save your money during clinical rotations is by living close to the hospital. You will be working really hard and spending most of your time at the hospital; hence doesn’t look for a nice place for your rotation. So while looking for housing, instead of giving more priority to a nice place, look for the housing that is close to the hospital. This will not just save your money on traveling, but your time as well.

2. Look for free housing options

You may look for free housing options or heavily discounted housing options. Some hospitals also offer free housing to rotating students. Other ways of finding free housing options are living at the place of friends or family.

3. Take public transportation

Public transportation is another best way of saving money during pharmacy rotations. The reason why it is the best way is that it is way cheaper as compared to taxi service providers like Uber. You should consider taking a monthly pass if it saves more money.

4. Cook instead of eating out

Instead of eating out, cook by yourself. When you cook food your own, you do not just save your money, but you also benefit your health. However, if you do not have time to cook your own, you can buy semi-homemade or freezer meals.

5. Buy used books

Instead of spending more money on buying new books, you can buy used books, or you can even borrow books from a friend. There are various online platforms like were you can easily find used books (with the great condition) at a lower price.

These are some ways you can use to save money during your pharmacy rotations.

Pharmacy Rotation Cheat Sheet

Pharmacy rotations are divided into two: Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPEs) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPEs).  When it comes to rotations, there are so many things you need to consider. It includes applying clinical tracks, scheduling off blocks, deciding about different hospitals and preceptors, etc. Here are some tips that will help you during your pharmacy rotations:

1. Choosing A Site

When you pick your rotations, you must not be picking the site because the preceptor allows going home early. By doing this, you will be losing out. The motive of pharmacy rotations is to implement your knowledge in practice. If you truly want to see yourself as a professional and expert pharmacist in the future, stop looking for shortcuts.

2. Perform Well

During your pharmacy rotations, you should always focus on performing great. Perform well means you need to consider all the aspects that impact your impression. You need to make sure you are early each day. When you become punctual, it creates a positive impression on your preceptor. Even if you are working on the night shifts, you must be following the time schedule.

3. Study More

The essential part of your pharmacy career is studying more and more. You need to examine what you have learned during your rotations and study more about that. You might have a tight schedule for studying, completing assignments, etc., but you can set goals for each activity you want to complete in a day.

4. Ask Questions

Do you have doubts about something? Yes? Ask questions. Whenever you are in doubt, ask your preceptor. Asking questions to the preceptor will help improve your knowledge and build up your confidence. The best way to revise the questions you have asked is by writing them down in your notebook.

Final Thoughts

Pharmacy rotations are the way of getting hands-on experience in the field before starting the pharmacy career. It is the time duration in which students apply the knowledge they have gained in practice. Pharmacy rotations are divided into two: IPPE and APPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience & Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience).

IPPE is for pharmacy students from 1st year to 3rd year, and APPE is for fourth-year pharmacy students. Students need to spend more hours in APPE as compared to IPPE. Preparing for the pharmacy rotations can be a tedious task, especially for new students. In this post, we have explained how students can prepare for pharmacy rotations.

So, in this post, we have explained – 4th-year pharmacy rotations, how to succeed during pharmacy APPEs, preparing for 1st-year rotations, how you can impress your preceptor, duration of pharmacy rotations, preparation for clinical rotations, saving money during pharmacy rotations and pharmacy rotations cheat sheet.


Danielle Winner

Hello my name is Danielle Winner. Welcome to my site on Pharmacy School and tips and tricks to hopefully help you get in. It's not easy but hopefully you can learn to not make mistakes that students (myself included) make. Good luck on your journey. I graduated from Albany School of Pharmacy in May 2010 and have had a few different jobs across the east coast of the U.S.

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