Posted on April 15, 2018 in: Member News
By Tricia Dyckman, Pharm.D. candidate 2018, Ferris State University College of Pharmacy, Big Rapids
The third year of pharmacy school is truly a transitional year. We begin applying what we learn and are thinking about the next step in our lives. I quickly discovered that hospital pharmacy was where I was meant to be and knew a residency was the natural next step. To adequately prepare, I wanted to make the most out of my rotational experiences. At the start of the year, there was talk of longitudinal advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs) at nearby hospitals. Longitudinal APPEs were a new concept for me, but I thought they could be beneficial considering what I wanted out of rotations. Having been through a majority of the year, it is clear that there are both benefits and limitations to this type of experience.
There are many advantages to being at a single institution for all rotational experiences. First and foremost, there is a smaller learning curve at the beginning of each rotation, more time can be spent on patient care, and I learned a little something more on each rotation about the electronic medical record to apply to the next. Second, stronger relationships can be built with both preceptors and residents. The longer you are at one site, the more people you will meet and form personal relationships with. This can be extremely helpful if you are looking for strong letters of recommendation. Becoming familiar with everybody’s niches in the hospital also makes it easier to ask appropriate questions. Lastly, a longitudinal APPE experience prevents having to uproot every couple of weeks to a new location. I have heard of stories in which people were staying in motels or driving several hours to their rotation site. I was recently married this past year and wanted a stable home life during rotations. A longitudinal APPE experience is cost-effective and allowed us to live close to both mine and my husband’s work sites.
As with any decision made, there are some limitations to a longitudinal APPE. Because all of my rotations were at one site, I did not have the chance to see how other hospital pharmacies were run. I did not experience other electronic medical records. If I were to start a residency at a different location, there would probably be a longer learning curve until I became competent with their system. I was also limited to the preceptors at my institution. I did not feel as though this hindered my learning experience, but this could potentially be problematic elsewhere. Lastly, the location does not change every six weeks, which means there is never a fresh start. And if you determine that this longitudinal site is not the right fit, you must endure it for the rest of the year!
I believe the best way to determine if a longitudinal APPE site is right for you is to assess your career goals. What do you want to do after this year of rotation? Will the benefits of a longitudinal APPE experience contribute to your future plans? Once you establish the answers to these questions, the picture should be clearer. Regardless of your decision, though, rotations are the first steps into clinical practice, and you get out of them what you put in. It is important to make the most out of your experiences because they help you become the pharmacist you are meant to be!