Pharmacy News

Entries for October 2017

The Relevance of Student Pharmacists

By Maryam Abbo, Derek Montgomery, Alexandra Muma and Adina Poparad-Stezar – Pharm.D. candidates, Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Wayne State University, Detroit

As a student on rotation, sometimes it feels like you are little more than a stressful addition to your preceptor’s day, occupying one side of a completely imbalanced relationship where you contribute little of value. This feeling will vanish when you recognize that your role as a student is part of a partnership between you and your site. The key to this realization is to find the balance between furthering your education and applying what you already know to become an integral member of the team. Rotations end in the blink of an eye, which can make your impact seem marginal, but by assessing how your day-to-day activities improve the healthcare of each patient, you will gain perspective on the student’s role on the healthcare team.

P4 students are assets to the clinical practice setting due to the multitude of skills they possess. Advanced pharmacy students are often involved in pharmacokinetic and anticoagulation dosing and monitoring, antimicrobial stewardship, medication reconciliations and discharge counseling. These activities are in addition to the interventions students make while working as part of the healthcare team. Incorporating P4 students in clinical practice not only alleviates the pressure of time on preceptors by allowing students to take over some patient care responsibilities, but it also promotes valuable patient care services that may otherwise be missed due to time constraints. Student involvement can improve patient satisfaction scores, increase patient understanding and even contribute to pharmacy cost savings.1 Additionally, P4 students can provide valuable education to other staff members and providers via both informal interactions and more formal in-service presentations. In certain settings, P4 students also serve as valuable resources in efforts to expand healthcare services not only in urban areas, but also in underserved populations and rural communities that have limited access to healthcare.

These are just some examples of the wide range of unique skills student pharmacists bring to the table, skills which have become vital to the rotation sites utilizing their services. Understanding your role as a student pharmacist provides fulfillment and purpose to the actions you will be performing. Even more importantly, it will help you identify when the student-rotation relationship is imbalanced and where improvements can be made for the betterment of you and your patients. By discussing with your preceptor the different roles that you are capable of, you can introduce new possibilities, and this discussion can act as a springboard for involvement in opportunities you did not know existed. In the end, it is up to you to demonstrate your relevance and the impact student pharmacists can have during their rotations.


1. Shogbon AO, Lundquist LM. Student Pharmacists’ Clinical Interventions in Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences at a Community Nonteaching Hospital. Am J Pharm Educ. 2014;78(3):50. doi:10.5688/ajpe78350.

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