I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying a little rest during these last days of 2020! I love hearing my students' perspectives as they have navigated this year's challenges and asked my current APPE rotation students to write a blog of some lessons they have learned this year. This is a blog written by my APPE rotation students- Reem Motan and Deanne Campinin (Midwestern University College of Pharmacy- Downers Grove, IL). Feel free to share with your students. Thanks!
A Pharmacy Student Survival Guide for Clinical Rotations During a Pandemic
The pandemic has presented itself with many changes over the past few months. Adaptability and optimism have been important qualities that we have amassed throughout our Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences. This year allowed us to grow both personally and professionally. We gained insight into characteristics that allowed us to make the most of our clinical rotations.
- Adaptability. Getting used to a new environment every few weeks was challenging in the beginning. It often felt like we were getting thrown into a new area of pharmacy as soon as we started to get comfortable with things. The pandemic was leading to constant changes and impacting our opportunities. Most of our rotations were getting canceled or shifted to a virtual platform. Through this experience, we became more aware of the importance of adaptability. We learned to respond to changes and were able to strengthen our problem solving and communication skills. By being more adaptable and flexible throughout our rotations, we were able to show how motivated we were to learn new information and try new things. By embracing the uncertainties, it allowed us to learn and grow as students and future health care providers.
- Take initiative. This past year has led to constant changes for everyone in the healthcare field. To ensure the safety of students, many rotations had to shift from in-person experiences to virtual ones. Many of our preceptors were overwhelmed with increased responsibilities and increased patient loads, making it difficult to check in with us on a daily basis. Although some of these factors made it more challenging for us to get a full learning experience, we were aware that we had the ability to make the most of our clinical rotations. It was up to us to take the initiative to check in with our preceptors, to ask questions to facilitate additional learning, and to ask to participate in unique opportunities. We realized that the majority of the time, your preceptors will make extra efforts to help you explore your interests, as long as you express them.
- Keep an open mind. It was overwhelming and upsetting to hear that different rotations were canceled, especially when they were ones that we were looking forward to for months. This past year taught us that everything happens for a reason. Every opportunity presented itself with unique experiences and learning lessons. It opened up doors that allowed us to connect with people that have guided us throughout our professional journey. It also allowed us to explore specialties and areas of pharmacy that we didn’t realize interested us.
- Networking. You may have heard the saying “pharmacy is a small world” numerous times throughout your academic journey. It is 100% true. We realized that building relationships with others is more impactful than we ever would have realized. With changes occurring to the current job market due to the pandemic, it may be more difficult to find opportunities after graduation. Staying in touch with the preceptors and people that you worked with on rotations may be beneficial in starting your career as a pharmacist. Each person that we interacted with offered career advice, support, different perspectives, or knowledge that attributed to us being more skilled and confident health care providers.
- Make time for yourself. Even though rotations are a great opportunity for you to learn and prove yourself as a student, they can be physically and emotionally exhausting at times. It is important to ensure that you are taking time to do things that you enjoy, spending time with friends and family, and taking the time to unwind. As students who worked every weekend all while balancing rotations, it was challenging at first to find time for ourselves and getting acclimated to the workload of certain rotations. However, we learned that in order to care for patients, we needed to take the time to care for ourselves first. To care for ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to avoid burnout.
by Reem Motan and Deanne Capinpin, PharmD Candidates
Midwestern University College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove, IL