Professional Advice / Opinions:

Choosing Clinical Rotations Sites

By: Ruby Lin, Pharm.D. Candidate c/o 2013

Rotation selection begins around mid-October for fifth year pharmacy students.  You may begin to panic about what sites you should choose from the huge selection that St. John’s University offers.  Your upperclassmen may try to help you by sharing their rotation experiences.  Alas, what do you do when the amount of information is just not enough?

Here is a quick checklist of what to look for when choosing your sites:

  • Personal and professional interests
  • Physical locations
  • Accessibilities (via modes of transportation)

Whether you are interested in pursuing a residency, fellowship, or still trying to figure out what the “right” path is for you, the selection of your rotation sites is very important.  If considering residencies, students may wish to look into the rigorous, five-month NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital (NYP) rotation program.  The rotations at NYP expose students to an intense work environment, and help them gain a feeling of what an actual residency may be like.  Alternatively, there are also rotations with St. John’s University faculty preceptors that provide experiences similar to those in the NYP program.  With these faculty rotations, you will have the chance to rank your favorite and/or inspirational clinical professors, whom you probably met through Drugs and Diseases, Drug Information, and several other Clinical Pharmacy Practice courses.

There are many pharmaceutical companies to choose from, especially if a fellowship seems like an attractive option.  Unfortunately, some may be very distant from your home.  As previously mentioned, locations are crucial when considering and selecting rotations.  One of my colleagues provided me with great advice: “Do not let location be the limiting factor for your choices; you have to go out and explore.” However, if it is difficult to make the daily commute to your desired sites, it is important to find a balance and compromise.

If you are uncertain about your future career, it would be best to select a diverse set of rotation sites that ultimately maximize your exposure to pharmacy.  For instance, there are rotations in the Department of Health, Poison Control Center, Emergency Medicine, specialty pharmacies, independent pharmacies, Managed Care, and even Medication Therapy Management (MTM).  In order to prepare students for their upcoming compounding examinations, St. John’s University also offers compounding pharmacy electives.

Logistically, each rotation lasts for roughly one month.  There are only five mandated rotation sites and four elective rotations to take over the course of a year.  One or two of the five rotations will be set in a community or ambulatory care setting – these will provide exposure to daily operations and patient counseling for students who do not currently work in a community pharmacy. In addition, for at least two months, students will work in a hospital setting learning about general and focused patient care.

In conclusion, although you rank sites according to preference, it is not a guarantee that you will receive them in that respective order.  Keep in mind that you will be indirectly competing with your colleagues, who may desire the same rotations, when choosing your sites. .  If you narrow your selection to about 10 sites, you will have a greater chance of receiving your picks.  Within a few weeks, you will receive your rotation schedule via a “lottery” (or selective randomization) system on RxPreceptor.  There are about two sessions or specific time periods where you may request alternative sites or changes to your schedule, especially if you are not satisfied with your placements. Remember that no matter what site you get, you should be proactive and have a desire to be involved in the daily operations of the clinical site for a satisfactory learning experience.

Published by Rho Chi Post
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