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Choosing 4th Year Rotations

By Stephanie Yager posted 01-24-2014 20:50


It's that time of the year where 3rd year pharmacy students start thinking about 4th year rotations. There is a lot to consider when choosing rotations - from scheduling off blocks, applying to clinical tracks or specialty rotations, and choosing different hospitals and preceptors. I had always imagined myself taking a huge variety of rotations including the FDA, infectious disease, ambulatory care, cardiology, Indian Health Service, Poison Center and more. Now that it is time to choose, I realize there aren't as many rotation blocks as I had thought and that I need to narrow down my interests.

My first step was deciding whether to apply to a clinical track. Many hospitals, including Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland, offer clinical track programs where students have several of their rotations at the same medical center. The benefit of doing a clinical track is that you are guaranteed to have several clinical rotations at a reputable medical center. Some residency programs give students an extra 'point' if they complete a clinical track. Despite these pros; I chose not to apply for a clinical track because I wanted to experience different types of medical centers. I wanted to see how pharmacies in different hospitals operate so I could develop a better understanding of what type of hospital I want to work at in the future.

Another big step is deciding which specialty rotations to apply to. Specialty rotation sites include the FDA, CDC, Eli Lilly, Proctor and Gamble and more. It would be interesting to see a different side of pharmacy and see the big picture of how drug development and regulation happen. These are unique opportunities and this is a great time in our lives to see what an important role pharmacists play in ensuring safe and effective use of medications throughout the US. It was a difficult decision, but once again I chose not to apply with the hopes of having more clinical rotations. I have no doubt that these sites would be interesting, but I realized that my current passion lies in clinical patient care and that is how I would prefer to spend my limited rotation time.

Choosing off blocks is also a tricky process. If you are applying for residency, it is good to have several clinical rotations before applications are due. If you want to travel out of the country, you need to schedule trips around anticipated interviews. You may want to have an 'easier' rotation during interview season, but clinical preceptors may be more understanding in letting you take time off to interview for residency programs. I plan on scheduling my off-block in early March so that I can go skiing with my family in Colorado.

There are countless other factors to consider when choosing rotations, such as where you want to practice in the future, your areas of interest, site reputation, and driving distance. In making these difficult decisions, I wish the best for my fellow students as we finalize our rotation selections.

#4thyear #PharmacyStudents #Rotations #Clinical #3rdyear #ClinicalTrack #Blocks
1 comment



01-26-2014 12:00

Great post!