An approach to layered learning
Garret Matthews: Precepting “is an invaluable experience that will prepare you and the IPPE student for your future roles as pharmacists.”
Stepping into the world of APPEs can seem daunting. Student pharmacists are quickly pulled from the safety of the classroom and told to apply their knowledge to a real, living patient—a far cry from scenarios we worked on in class. While this may be difficult initially, find some comfort in the fact that school prepared you with the foundations to approach most situations. But what do you do when you face a situation on rotations that school did not prepare you for and couldn’t have prepared you for? How do you assist in precepting an IPPE student when you are learning as well?
Entering the world of layered learning comes with some growing pains of its own. I was confronted with challenging situations during multiple rotations, but I quickly came to appreciate them with the utmost gratitude.
The following are some notes I compiled that helped me to provide a welcome learning experience for the IPPE students I rotated with.
It is extremely helpful to get to know the student that you’re assisting to precept right away. This helps you to gauge their interests and their background in pharmacy. You can use this information you discover to help tailor the IPPE student’s experience to build on the knowledge they already have.
It can be difficult to pose a question to IPPE students in a manner that doesn’t give away the answer and also challenges them to think critically about the patient, disease state, or medication. This provides substantial insight and experience to APPE students by helping you understand the thought process that your own preceptor uses to question you. This knowledge will help you better field questions from providers, nurses, and other health care team members in the future.
3. Not knowing the answer
When you are the “driver” for the questions, it is easy to direct the conversation where you want it to go—but what about when you’re asked a question that you can’t answer? You can’t leave the IPPE student without a response, but you also don’t want to reveal your gap in knowledge by pulling out your computer to look it up in front of them. A skill that I developed and used frequently when fielding questions that I couldn’t answer was to encourage the student to investigate it themselves.
I would ask the student, “Why don’t you look that up and get back to me with what you find?” That gives them an opportunity to teach you and gives you the opportunity to seek out an answer for yourself. The student develops their literature-searching abilities and builds an early foundation that will come in handy when they become an educator for other pharmacists and providers—even those who seem to be more experienced than them. That can be an intimidating task, but as a preceptor in the layered learning process, you can help the student to fulfill such a task confidently.
4. Future implications for you
Working with students in this way benefits you as an APPE student. If precepting is something that you enjoy, consider PGY1 residency programs that offer a teaching certificate. This allows you to determine whether you would like to pursue a career in an academic setting or serve as a preceptor in the future.
An invaluable experience
No student is going to be the same after their APPE rotations, and each approach to precepting will look a little different. However, as an APPE student, you can begin sharpening your skills so you can provide the best learning environment for students in the future. If there is one takeaway from my article, it is that you should use the opportunity to precept another student on rotations when it presents itself. This is an invaluable experience that will prepare you and the IPPE student for your future roles as pharmacists.
Garret Matthews is a final-year PharmD candidate at the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Pharmacy.