Perfecting Precepting

By Kinjal Parikh posted 03-10-2014 17:54


Balance has become a theme intertwining many of the topics and challenges reflected in my posts as a new practitioner. The recent months have exposed me to new challenges as my transition period comes to a close and I become more invested and take on other roles as part of my clinical pharmacy specialist position. One of these roles was an experience as the primary rotation coordinator and preceptor for a student rotation.  

Like many residents, I completed a formal teaching certificate during my first year residency and continued utilizing that information through my PGY2 residency. I applied my skills directly to students on rotations and met with my teaching mentor regularly to think about hypothetical situations and take on additional assignments to gain experience in coordinating rotations, reflecting on didactic opportunities, and working on my teaching philosophy. I left thinking the rigor and multi-faceted focus of the program gave me adequate armament in educating the next generation of pharmacists.

Despite all of the “hands-on” experience, there is no way to truly prepare for the spectrum of student learners that exist or the challenges of time management in coordinating patient care responsibilities, being an effective teacher, and ensuring that a student’s time with you is optimized with topic discussions, other presentations and projects, and school enforced didactics. In the process of becoming a good preceptor, I’ve discovered more questions that I had never thought through before.

Influence is an interesting thing. As preceptors, we have so much influence on students and residents. These are our future practitioners and colleagues and as a preceptor I want to create positive, professional relationships. However, I have been asking myself, how do we appropriately do this as young practitioners in today’s modernized era? Here are some of the questions that I’ve pondered: 

  1. Age – How does one balance being corporeally younger but pharmaceutically older as an educator? Or if you are similar in age, is it okay to be a “friend” to a student?

  2. Technology – What really is “unprofessional?” Is it okay that we are talking about facebook or that you are texting your friends during the day? Should I know about your weekend shenanigans and the troubles of your personal life or vice versa? Should you text me when things arise or is e-mail or phone call the better form of communication?

  3. Networking – We have all heard it’s not what you know, but who you know, so then what should our one-on-one level of interaction with a student be like? Should I make small talk with you and get to know you or should I redirect you to let your work speak for itself and your clinical knowledge, patient interactions, and career goals?

  4. Prioritization – Do I hope that you are being candid with me about other engagements outside of rotation or is it more impressive when you balance both personal and rotation responsibilities with a great attitude and I only become aware after the fact?

  5. Feedback – I empathize, I make exceptions, and I understand motivations for certain behaviors because I have recently been through it all. Am I inviting someone to walk over my kindness? Once behaviors go astray, how do I correct those that I may be guilty for creating an environment to promote them? Should I be constantly critical or be patient enough to witness the student’s inner drive and (cap)abilities?

  6. Learning – Do I worry about the processes the learner takes to achieve the end goal if the process is wrong or different than how I would do it if the end result is still appropriate and meets expectations? If they have decided their future career and subspecialty will never align with the topic of my rotation, do I still expect a high level of engagement or do I just ensure they take home the key points to be safe and perform the basic pharmacist oath of “do no harm?”

In my own quest to become an ideal preceptor, I keep the phrase in mind that experience is the best teacher. I'm still just as much a learner as I am a preceptor right now. I know that time and the students and residents that I come across will help me become the best I can be for them.

#Resident #NewPractitioners #Precepting