Thursday, August 21, 2008

Considering being a preceptor

That's pretty much the only update I have in my pharmacy world. I'm really considering becoming a preceptor.

Our store's long time pharmacy intern returned to work this summer (she goes to school out of state, so during the semester, she can't work). She's now just starting her rotations during her last year of school. This summer, I made a little bit of an effort to try to at least get her thinking about some of the things she will inevitably have to know for rotations. I didn't go out of my way to quiz her about drugs, but if I happened to pick something off the shelf that I knew a little nugget of wisdom about, I'd ask her something.

I never really gave serious thought to being a preceptor before, but at the end of the summer, she told me that she thinks I'd have a lot to offer as a preceptor and that I should look into it... so I did a little bit.

It's something that I could really see myself doing, and I think I would find it to be very rewarding. I think I have a pretty unique view on retail pharmacy. I recognize that, unfortunate as it may be, it is a business first and foremost. However, just because it's a business, and we have to deal with a ton of bullshit from that perspective, doesn't mean we can't make a difference in people's lives.

Maybe Medication Therapy Management (MTM) is coming soon. Maybe it's not. Regardless, we don't need it to be viewed as professionals. I don't think most of our customers want to make appointments to see their pharmacist. I don't think they really want another person telling them what they should or should not be taking. That's not to say that we shouldn't make suggestions if we feel one is appropriate. However, I don't think that's what they're looking for in their pharmacist.

I think in most cases, your long term and elderly customers just want someone who cares. They want a pharmacist who makes them feel comfortable enough to ask questions. They want a pharmacist that even if he doesn't know the answer to a question right away, he'll go and look it up and get back to them. They want someone they can trust who they view as different from their physician, but still as an expert.

Of course, there are exceptions, but I think these things apply to a good portion of our customers. Therefore, I think this is what pharmacists need to keep in mind when doing their jobs. It's mostly about building trust and showing you care. That's what I would try to pass on to students.

Retail pharmacy is an important job no matter what pharmacy school professors try to say. We are the face of this profession. We deal with more patients on a daily basis than the busiest doctor's office. No, we aren't able to get really in-depth with all of them, but most retail pharmacist know their long time patients pretty well. Hell, I can probably rattle off a med list for about 20 of our customers off the top of my head. These people depend on us, so it's important that they trust us. That trust is what will keep them coming back.... which is good for business.

Anyway... I kind of got side tracked.

I was thinking about how I would set up a rotation for students, and I think had some good ideas. For one, students on my rotation would be doing pretty much all of the counseling. If anyone has a question, the student is the first to answer it (or try to). If someone needs an OTC recommendation, the student will go out in the aisle and help them out.

I wouldn't have much written work, but I think I'd have them to write-ups on some of the more important interactions we spot during the rotation. I might even have them do one drug write-up. I didn't really think about projects (every student is supposed to have one project due at the end of each rotation), but I'm sure the student could do blood pressure screenings, or even help show customers how to use their glucometers more effectively.

You know... I'm still single. I complain about not having much of a life. I think it's time for me to stop my whining and complaining and start being productive. There are a lot more ways to make a difference in this world other than having a girlfriend or getting married. Maybe that will come eventually. Maybe it won't. I can't waste my life waiting for it though.

In any case... Nothing is set yet. I have to do some more planning and figure out if my coworkers would be on board with the idea. After all, I'm not at the store 24/7. My coworkers (both pharmacists and technicians) would have to be accepting of students. I see a few potential issues there, so I want to make sure those are worked out before I dive into this.

There are also some personal concerns that are holding me back a little. I worry that while this is all playing out well in my mind, I won't be able to execute my plan as well as I'm imagining it. After all, I'm not exactly the most outspoken and charismatic person, especially when you first meet me. All things considered though, I think it would be good for me both professionally and personally.


Jman said...

I am approaching the end of my first summer internship. It was/is a great break from school. The qualities that my preceptor has that made my internship a great experience were:
-easy going/approachable
-lets me try to answer questions and do the counseling but is always ready to jump in if I request.
-mini assignments each day. Mostly information gathering and then mini presentations, informal of course.
-giving the whole staff cholesterol screening, blood glucose screening and BP screening.
-Always on the lookout for CE lectures in town where I can get a free meal and some information to take with a grain of salt.
-I also like to hear about his past in pharmacy.
The preceptor has been an integral part in my education this summer but all the pharmacists and technicians have taught me all sorts of things. It takes a "village" to teach an intern....
I know my preceptor wants me to succeed and that makes me want to succeed even more.

Mike, i think you should go for it. It is important to have the staff on board with it though, so it is a smooth experience for all involved. You sound like you genuinely want to help an intern grow as a pharmacist and your interns will see that.
Good Luck to you Mike!

ohladybug said...

mike... even as a tech, you sound like the kind of pharmacist that would answer my questions and educate me, even though i have no desire to go back to school. this is the kind of pharmacist that i think all interns would appreciate!i say go for it!

ros said...

mike, i've enjoyed your blog, and i'll be supportive of u becoming a preceptor, one of my fave preceptors was in the retail field, eventually he had me counsel most scripts (honestly, helped a lot)'ll also have fodder of diff. types of students from those who lived in the pharmacy to newbies. Beware of newbies who even thought there was walmart viagra vs walgreens viagra