MPA | Pharmacy News

By Malak Abbas, Pharm.D., PGY1 pharmacy resident, Detroit Medical Center, Harper University Hospital, Detroit

The American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP) in 2008 anticipated a shortage of qualified pharmacy preceptors, and as such, encouraged active integration of pharmacy residents into experiential teaching models to develop precepting skills early in their careers.1,2 Residency programs across the nation have since used this opportunity for professional development and began extending offers to residents to undergo formal training in clinical preceptorship. As I come to near completion of my residency journey, I cannot help but reminisce on the transition from learner to teacher and the challenges I have overcome during this journey. The transition from a pharmacy student to a pharmacy resident can be described as a rite of passsage with three major phases: separation, liminality and reaggregation.3,4

At first, the concept of becoming a preceptor immediately post-graduation may seem intimidating to new residents, as residents still have a student mindset and have yet to experience practicing independently. Students depend on faculty and clinical preceptors for validation of clinical competence. The initial phase of becoming a preceptor, known as the separation phase, occurs when residents learn to distance themselves from thinking like a student. It is during this phase when residents become forward thinkers and begin to apply the critical thinking skills and decision-making skills previously developed. Taking proactive measures to gain confidence during the separation phase will help with transition to the liminality phase by building professional interactions with increased communication.

The liminality phase is the phase between distancing oneself from their former identity as a student and entering a new role of being a preceptor. Transitioning into the role of precepting is challenging as it encompasses more than just having sufficient knowledge to teach. As a preceptor, residents learn to model high standards of professional behavior, display confidence and demonstrate strong character. A barrier to becoming a successful preceptor is ineffective time management skills. Residents will find that proactively preparing for the dynamic nature of precepting and effectively planning ahead will help overcome this challenge. Getting to know the students early in a rotation helps with developing effective teaching techniques by accommodating to the student’s individual learning style and gaining active participation. The transition phase prepares residents for the final reaggregation phase as they sharpen their communication skills, gain new confidence and a new perspective for analyzing and processing information.5

During the reaggregation phase, residents embrace the role of a preceptor and incorporate precepting into daily practice. New residents gain motivation to improve knowledge to pass on to others. Furthermore, with more experience, residents will improve in their ability to receive and give feedback and develop personal self-evaluation skills. During this phase, the full benefits of precepting are recognized including personal satisfaction and professional growth, staying current with evidence-based medicine, and influencing the learning experience of a student and future pharmacist.6

Becoming a preceptor with a positive influence on the profession was made possible through the endless support of mentors, utilizing available resources, attending preceptor development workshops and observing experienced successful preceptors. As I continue to grow in my role as a preceptor, I hope to continue to find opportunities to polish my teaching skills and further develop as a preceptor in order to provide future students with a quality experiential education experience.


  1. Haase KK, Smythe MA, Orlando PL et al. Quality experiential education. Pharmacotherapy. 2008; 28(12):1547
  2. Haase KH, Smythe MA, Orlando PL et al. Ensuring quality experiential education. Pharmacotherapy. 2008; 28(12):1548-51
  3. VanGennep, A. The rites of passage. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1960
  4. Barker ER1, Pittman O. Becoming a super preceptor: a practical guide to preceptorship in today's clinical climate. J Am Acad Nurse Pract. 2010 Mar;22(3):144-9
  5. Hammond DA, Norris KR, Phillips MS. Embracing Challenges When Co-Precepting Pharmacy Students. Hospital Pharmacy. 2014;49(4):348-354
  6. Marrs, Joel C., and Dan M. Rackham. "Residents' challenging role: preceptee, preceptor, or both?" Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2010; 67(3)239-43

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