“Stephanie,” congratulations on your impending graduation! It is so exciting to be at the end of this journey that has taken years to complete, but I know it can be a scary time, too. Be sure to make the most of it, because before you know it, it will be over.
You asked: “How do you think student pharmacists can build trust with their patients when they don’t see the patients regularly?” This is something I struggled with a lot as a final-year student pharmacist, and still do as a new practitioner. Building trust with patients is a difficult skill to master and it is something that you will be improving upon throughout your career.
Building trust can be like walking a tightrope, because while you want to befriend patients, you sometimes have to show some tough love. I did a rotation in a rural town at a coumadin clinic. It was hard being in a small town. Most of the patients saw me as an outsider, and I felt I was struggling to connect with the patients, especially since I only had 6 weeks there. Here are some tips I learned from my experience.
Get to know your patients! Just asking them a little about their life, their families, their pastimes, and checking in with them each time can result in an increase in trust. If they are calling on the phone to ask a question, or you see them when walking in or out of the clinic, offer a smile and say hello! Remember, a little effort goes a long way when building trust. Finally, I want to stress how important patient trust is as a subject. You can be the smartest, most well-educated pharmacist in the world, but if your patients won’t listen to you, or don’t trust what you are saying, then you may as well be counseling a brick wall. Try your best to keep those relationships with your patients alive and healthy, because that is how you will make a positive impact on their lives.
I was going to give you some advice on keeping up with changes in insurance, the health care system, etc., throughout your career, but it seems like you have already picked up on it. So, talk to your peers. Your peers are great resources because they have all had different experiences with work and their rotations; one area you may be weak in could be their strength. Try to keep in touch with your classmates after graduation because they will be great resources. And don’t forget, while they may be your preceptor now, in just a few short months you will get “PharmD” after your name, and once that happens, they become your peer. So keep in contact with your preceptors and pharmacy professors, because they are full of insights and knowledge.
I contacted one of my preceptors while looking for a job after graduation, and now I work at a site where I did a rotation. I love my job, and I believe if I did not have the connection through my rotation, it would have been much harder to get.
Keep in mind that even after graduation, there are so many opportunities to discover and explore other fields of pharmacy. State pharmacists associations, boards of pharmacy, or national organizations like APhA are great resources to learn about other fields of pharmacy. Many of them will offer CE or talks to learn about these other fields, and some may even offer shadowing or other opportunities. There are a variety of certificate programs, traineeships, etc., and all these programs are designed to help busy pharmacists either develop skills or learn about other fields within pharmacy. As a student, I didn’t have much time or money to participate in many of these organizations. Now, while I still don’t have much time, I make it a priority because they are that important. I strongly urge you to consider membership in at least one pharmacy organization to keep you connected and up to date with the profession.
Throughout your career and life, you will have many ups and downs. Just keep in mind, if you are ever unhappy, you have control of your life. You make the decisions and it is never too late to do something that will make you happy.
Best of luck in your budding career!