By: Aleena Cherian, Co-Copy Editor, Graphics Focused
Selecting APPE Rotations
You’ve made it past the progression interviews at the end of 2nd year, the White Coat Ceremony, and the mind-boggling compounding and kinetics equations. You’re almost done with those labs and late night D&D study sessions. Now, halfway through the first semester of your fifth year in the pharmacy program, you face the daunting task of selecting and ranking advanced rotations for your spring semester, something quite unlike anything in the program so far. For the first time since second semester of second year, you won’t be looking at block schedules with your classmates. And while the entire process seems intimidating at first, it helps to have a little guidance and reassurance before you begin.
First, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you won’t be going into the process blindly. The faculty of the College will set up an orientation that explains all of the details prior to the deadline for submission. Expect to hear about an orientation sometime in early-to-mid October and submit your rankings a few weeks after that.
Do your research!
After the orientation, the RxPreceptor website will allow you to look at potential sites for your five required rotations (An introductory “Key Concepts” rotation, one general inpatient setting, one focused inpatient setting, ambulatory care, and community practice) and four elective rotations. Make the most of the time allotted to look at the different sites offered to you, and do not wait until the night before the deadline to start looking. The last thing you want to do is submit your choices blindly at the last minute without giving it any thought.
Attend the rotations fair and speak to different preceptors- you may learn of a new rotation that interests you! There’s no required number of sites that you should rank for each rotation, although you will be provided with a suggested number at orientation. Don’t rank sites just to meet this number without looking into them, since there is always a chance you may end up with your 6th or 7th choice.
Take chances and be flexible!
It’s very tempting to limit your selection only to sites that you’ve heard of or to sites closest to where you live. As you research sites, however, keep an open mind to the different rotation possibilities, even if it means an unfamiliar setting or a longer commute, and you may someday find that the learning experience was worth the possible inconvenience.
There are also a number of non-traditional rotations that may be offered to you such as “bundled” rotations at one site (like NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s five month program) or out-of-state sites, including Pharmacy Affairs/Public Policy rotations in the Washington DC area and the ambulatory care rotation at Cherokee Indian Hospital in North Carolina. Students in the past have provided extremely positive feedback about these rotations*, and if they become available to you, take a chance on the unique offers!
Vary your choices
You may be starting rotations without the slightest idea of where your future in pharmacy is headed, and if so, take heart! Selecting a variety of rotations in diverse settings is the perfect opportunity to see what areas interest you the most.
On the other hand, you may already know that you prefer a certain area of pharmacy practice over another, but you still have the option of choosing different sites, different patient populations or different settings. If you know you prefer an acute care setting, try distinctive specialties at several institutions. If the community setting is where you see yourself, compare your experiences in a managerial rotation to one at an independent site to one that focuses on MTM. Varying your rotations not only provides you with options to see where your preferences lie, but presents you as a well-rounded student to future employers.
Even if you are absolutely certain of your preferences, I would still suggest trying one elective in an unfamiliar or different area in the field of pharmacy. With so many opportunities out there, this is a great chance to gain exposure to something new in the profession.
Rotations are one of the most rewarding experiences in your career as a student pharmacist, because it allows you to put into practice all of the theory you’ve spent years studying. Even if you don’t get your first choices, keep an open mind and remember that you will be given a chance later in the semester to submit requests to change your sites, especially if you find other options that interest you more.
*Check out the following articles in previous issues of the Rho Chi Post for a more comprehensive review of some of these rotations:
Puranprashad, Nandini . A Cherokee Experience: The story of my rotation. Rho Chi Post. Sept 2012; 1(12):22-23
Ciccone, Addolorata. My Experiences at NewYork-Presbyterian. Rho Chi Post. Oct 2012; 2(1):6-7.