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The Benefits of Developing Relationships with Student Pharmacists

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Career Manager By Bethany Murphy, PharmD, BCACP

As a New Practitioner begins his or her career, it is often hard to balance the demands of working a full time job with other important pieces of a professional career such as continuing education, research, and community involvement. Oftentimes, involvement with student pharmacists may be seen as just another extra thing to be added to a to-do list that is already too long. However, pharmacists, and especially New Practitioners, have much to gain by maintaining relationships with student pharmacists and there are many different ways to become involved.

Precepting
Many New Practitioners may be assigned the duty of precepting student pharmacists while they are on clinical rotations. Although spending time educating and mentoring student pharmacists may require additional time from the practitioner, this relationship can benefit both the practitioner and student pharmacist. Since most rotation students are required to do a certain number of journal club or other topic presentations, the practitioner can take advantage of these opportunities by having the student present information that is timely and important to pharmacy practice.

For example, if the student can develop a presentation about a new drug class of interest, it will be beneficial for the education of the student and also for the preceptor, who will spend a reduced amount of time searching for information about the topic. Specific journal articles can be assigned to students, who can provide summaries about new information and save time for the preceptor.

Research
New Practitioners often struggle with maintaining research and contributing to the pharmacy literature after pharmacy school and residency. Working with student pharmacists can provide excellent opportunities for research. If a practitioner has ideas for research within his or her practice area, student pharmacists can help out as a way to gain experience in the research process.

Student pharmacists can help with brainstorming possible research ideas. A student pharmacist may have an idea for a project that simply needs the support and direction of a mentor. New Practitioners can easily relate to students and share recent experiences to help guide them through the research process. Ideas that start as student projects often expand to become ongoing areas of research for both the student and the practitioner.

New Practitioner Mentor
Maintaining involvement with student pharmacists, especially through involvement with an APhA–ASP Chapter, provides many opportunities for new practitioners to become involved in the community. Most APhA–ASP Chapters conduct multiple patient care and service events in the community on a regular basis and are more than willing to allow pharmacists from the community to participate in these events. Some chapters may even be willing to allow a pharmacist from the community to oversee an event. Such events allow New Practitioners to give back to the community and provide services outside of their usual practice setting. Not only will community members appreciate the service, but students and advisors of the APhA–ASP Chapter will likely also be very grateful for the additional support. 

Another way to develop relationships with student pharmacists and an APhA–ASP Chapter is through the New Practitioner Mentorship Program. By becoming a New Practitioner Mentor at a school or college of pharmacy in your area, you can provide support and become involved with the activities of the chapter. Such involvement provides numerous opportunities to participate in community events and fosters relationships with student pharmacists that may lead to opportunities for future collaboration.  To learn more about becoming a New Practitioner Mentor, contact APhA’s Tom English at tenglish@aphanet.org.

Like the NPN page on Facebook and tell us about the positive collaborations you have had with student pharmacists!

Bethany L. Murphy, PharmD, BCACP, is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the Union University School of Pharmacy.

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