While choosing the pharmacy as a career, you need to keep in mind that it will require so much hard work and effort. 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.
Pharmacy rotations are just the part of hard work and effort you will put in the journey of becoming a successful pharmacist. Doing pharmacy rotations allows you to gain experience. In this post, we will share everything you need to know about pharmacy rotations. Let’s start with a basic question, “How do pharmacy rotations work?”
How Do Pharmacy Rotations Work?
Pharmacy rotation is the most important part of the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum. It is important because it includes real-life clinical experiences that help to improve your practical knowledge and skills in the pharmacy field. It helps you understand that gaining just theoretical knowledge is not enough in the pharmacy.
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.
During the first three years of the pharmacy, you need to complete the IPPE, and once your third PharmD year gets completed, then the APPE. 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.
After gaining sufficient knowledge and experience in the first three years of pharmacy, in the fourth year, you will need to start focusing on rotations for full-time. There are also criteria for how much time you need to spend in Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations. If we talk about the fourth-year curriculum of the pharmacy, you must have spent between 1520 hours to 1840 hours. It is the criteria of APPE pharmacy rotations.
To help you gain sufficient practical experience during your pharmacy rotations, you learn under the supervision of preceptors, senior pharmacy students, pharmacies, and specialty clinics. During year 1 to 3, students get sufficient training immunization & screening tests for blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, etc. Through local health fairs, students start focusing on the improvement of their skills. When it comes to the fourth year, students are provided advanced training and skills.
How Long Are Pharmacy Rotations?
Pharmacy rotations play a very important role in your pharmacy career. The motive of pharmacy rotations is to provide students sufficient practical knowledge regarding clinics and pharmacies. It helps students to learn how actually to deal with real-time patients.
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. And, the selection will be based on the class lottery system. In the last year of the pharmacy curriculum, students go through extensive training in different areas of practice. In the initial three weeks of IPPE, students get hands-on training in screening tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes. And during those three year time period, you need to complete approximately 300 hours of experiential learning.
If we talk about APPE, you get advanced training in different areas. During the APPE, the rotation time increases so that you can get more experience. And, during that time, you must have spent between 1520 hours to 1840 hours. It is the criteria of APPE pharmacy rotations.
How Do You Prepare For Clinical Rotation?
For students, the preparation of clinical rotations may seem a bit complex, but it isn’t. The main objective of conducting clinical rotations is to help students understand the pharmacy more practically. It is the time when students apply the knowledge practically that they have learned in their classrooms. Here we will tell you how exactly you should prepare for 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.
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 be always 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.
So this way, you can prepare for the clinical rotations in your pharmacy. The preparation of clinical rotations might seem a bit complex, but it should not be.
Are Pharmacy Rotations Paid?
Pharmacy rotations are the best way to get hands-on experience and practical knowledge regarding pharmacy. If you are planning to get specialization in a particular area, then you need to make sure that you have rotations at the particular area you are interested in specializing.
If you are a newbie, you must be excited to know whether pharmacy rotations are paid or not. The answer to this question is, “No pharmacy students do not get paid for the pharmacy rotations.” The reason behind why pharmacy students can’t get paid for the rotations is because of accreditation document is explicitly not allowing this. The main answer you will hear while asking this question regarding why you do not get paid for rotations is, “This is a pharmacy rotation, not a residency.”
Though you can’t make money by doing pharmacy rotations, you can implement different methods for saving or making money while doing your pharmacy rotations. The first best way to save money is by choosing the right location. You need to make sure that you do not select the location that is far away from your place. It not just increases traveling time but also increases travel expenses.
Apart from this, you can also take a look at different scholarships and grants. Getting a scholarship helps you to cover some expenses incurred during the pharmacy rotations. You can go through different financial aids options out there.
Pharmacy Rotation Survival Kit
When you are in IPPE (means during pharmacy year 1 to 3), the pharmacy rotations will not feel frustrating. But, when you will get into APPE (Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience), you will start feeling the burden. To help you out in the APPE pharmacy rotations, here we have prepared a survival kit:
1. Be prepared
Pharmacy rotation is the time period when you get so much practical knowledge. It is essential to be prepared for every situation. You need to give importance to each and every pharmacy rotation. You need to make sure that you have brought all the required paperwork and documentation in the pharmacy rotation.
2. Be professional and confident
It is very important 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.
Location is one of the most crucial factors you need to consider during your fourth-year pharmacy rotations. You need to consider different factors before making the decision regarding a particular pharmacy rotation site. Choosing the right location helps to save your time, money, and energy.
4. Remember “Time is Money”
During your pharmacy rotations, you need to make sure that you utilize your time very efficiently. In your fourth year of pharmacy, you should keep focusing on gaining more and more knowledge and experience. During your free time, you can read about the latest developments or drugs. In short, you should be able to utilize your time properly.
Types of Pharmacy Rotations
When it comes to types of pharmacy rotations, there are only two types of pharmacy rotations. It is mandatory for the pharmacy students to go through types of pharmacy rotations as per the criteria. To help you understand both types, here we have shared a detailed explanation:
Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE)
IPPEs pharmacy rotation is the time when students experience direct patient care mostly for the first time. IPPE is in the first three years of the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum. During the first three years’ pharmacy rotations, you will observe pharmacists applying knowledge in different practice settings. You will also participate in different pharmacy care activities under the guidance of experienced pharmacists.
IPPE begins during or just after the first year of the pharmacy curriculum. Depending upon the pharmacy school you have enrolled in, the IPPE rotations may begin during or just after the pharmacy curriculum the first year.
IPPE rotations are mandatory, according to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). And, ACPE requires that students must have completed their IPPE rotations in a variety of settings. Now, let’s take a look at APPE.
Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE)
After the completion of IPPE pharmacy rotations during the first three years of curriculum, the fourth year of pharmacy includes APPE rotations. The main objective of APPE rotations is to execute facts, information, and concepts learned in the classrooms to the real-life clinics.
APPE rotations are the time in which students should gather as much knowledge as they can. It is the best opportunity for gaining hands-on experience and skills. Apart from a pharmacy, APPE rotations also make you learn professionalism, communication, critical thinking, how to deal with different situations, and much more.
In Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE), there are five crucial experiences included: community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy, ambulatory care pharmacy, acute care/general medicine pharmacy, and research application for patient care.
Pharmacy Rotation Tips
Pharmacy is a bit long process. It may be of 5 to 8 years. If you are a pharmacy student, you must be excited about graduation day. Throughout the Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum, you go through rotations. Pharmacy rotations play a crucial part in the Doctor of Pharmacy coursework.
It is because, during the pharmacy rotations, students go through a pharmacy in real life, which helps to learn communication skills, professionalism, critical thinking, and problem-solving. Here are some pharmacy rotation tips that will help you to make the right decisions:
1. Choose carefully
The first and foremost thing you need to keep in mind is choosing the pharmacy rotation carefully. Many times, students choose a particular pharmacy rotation site just because they have heard that the site’s preceptor allows out early just after 3 hours of work. You might think it is a good idea to choose such a site, but actually, it isn’t a good idea at all.
The pharmacy rotation is the time when students learn things that they have learned in classrooms, practically. So, the objective of pharmacy rotation is to implement the knowledge in real life. Hence, make sure you choose the pharmacy rotation site carefully.
2. Ask Questions
Many times, students get hesitate to ask questions from their preceptors and seniors. You don’t need to hesitate to ask any questions or queries. 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.
3. Study after reaching home
You might feel lazy after having a long pharmacy rotation day. But, it is essential to give proper time to learn what you are experiencing at rotations. If you find something confusing, you can ask questions of your preceptors or seniors. 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.
4. Maintain an open mind
The biggest mistake you can ever make during pharmacy rotations is going into pharmacy sites with a closed mind. You don’t need to go with a negative or closed mind for a particular rotation. Thinking negatively automatically will limit your experience at the site. So, always maintain an open mind while going into different pharmacy sites.
5. Carry a notebook
You might be not finding it useful to carry a notebook at the site, but it can be effective. Carrying a notebook and noting down all the points you learn during the pharmacy rotations can create a big impact. Hence, make sure you carry around a notebook during the pharmacy rotations, especially during APPE rotations.
Pharmacy rotation is the time when you implement what you have learned in your classroom. Pharmacy rotations are just the part of hard work and effort you will put in the journey of becoming a successful pharmacist. Doing pharmacy rotations allows you to gain experience. Rotations are divided into two – Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE).
In the first three years of the pharmacy curriculum, students go through IPPE, and in the last year of the pharmacy curriculum, students go through APPE. If we talk about choosing a pharmacy rotation site, there are many things to keep in mind. It includes applying clinical tracks, scheduling off blocks, deciding about different hospitals and preceptors, etc. In this post, we have shared a complete guide on pharmacy rotations. We have explained how do pharmacy rotations work, how long are pharmacy rotations, how to prepare for it, tips for pharmacy rotations, the survival kit for rotations, and much more.