Student Corner: Abigale Lewis

Abigale LewisAbigale Lewis, PharmD Candidate 2022, describes several strategies that her preceptors, Dr. Harry Wilkinson (Genoa Healthcare) and Dr. Lindsey Meston (Genesis Medical Associates), utilized that fostered a positive, robust, and stimulating learning experience.

"I enjoy when preceptors ask us to prepare goals before the first official day because it allows me to critically think about what I want to accomplish and reflect on what I do not know about the practice setting. This way by preparing goals, I have also prepared learning gaps and questions that I would like addressed throughout the experience."

Out of my completed Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs), I have had the privilege of working with fantastic preceptors. They pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and actively sought constructive criticism in order to better their teaching methods and the experience.

Before entering the rotation, the Office of Experiential Education advises students to reach out to our new preceptors and introduce ourselves. After doing so, my preceptor replied back and asked me to create three specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to bring in on the first day. This allowed me to reflect on what I wanted to accomplish on this rotation. I appreciated the structure of the SMART goals, because it provided guidance versus generalized goals that I could have come up with quickly on the first day. Another strategy that a previous preceptor utilized was to send out an interest sheet. He provided five quick questions for the students to answer, so that he could gain more information into the students' backgrounds before the first day. This way he was able to see what pharmacy experience we previously had in order to construct a rotation that would allow different opportunities. In this questionnaire, the last question asked us to provide a couple goals we would like to accomplish on the rotation. I enjoy when preceptors ask us to prepare goals before the first official day because it allows me to critically think about what I want to accomplish and reflect on what I do not know about the practice setting. This way by preparing goals, I have also prepared learning gaps and questions that I would like addressed throughout the experience. Providing goals in a formal setting at the beginning is a good tool to assess the preceptor. As students, we have midpoint and final assessments that the preceptors complete, but the students' goals act as a midpoint and final assessment for the preceptor. The student is able to provide feedback on if the preceptor is providing opportunities for them to accomplish their goals.

Both preceptors that I have had the opportunity to work with have had similar teaching techniques that have helped me succeed throughout the experience. In both experiences, my preceptors allowed me to direct the learning experiences towards topics I am interested in by independently choosing journal club articles and presentation topics. This showed me that the preceptors were interested in learning something outside of their comfort zone if it was not a common interest, and it provided enough freedom for me to invest in something I was passionate about. I think both of these aspects allowed me to have better outcomes on the assignments and assessments, because I was invested in the work. Both of my preceptors also provided a lot of freedom in the structure of the rotation. I think this is helpful because it helps to cultivate time-management and multitasking skills, which are necessary as a professional. It is also helpful, because it allows the student the opportunity to ask for help when they need it, which is also an important skill of being a professional. Being a professional means being able to realize your shortcomings and not letting your pride get in the way of patient care. Asking questions is an important thing to be comfortable doing in the pharmacy profession, which is why I think allowing a certain amount of freedom in an experience is important.

In my rotations, I had a daily check-in with my preceptor to make sure I had tasks to work on and to address any questions I may have. This was an opportunity for the preceptor to provide feedback on the work that I was turning in at my own pace, but also to make sure I had other tasks to continue to work on. I found it helpful that when I turned in assignments, my preceptor would review my work and then provide in-person feedback before it was formally assessed. This way the preceptors could understand my rationale, and they could provide feedback for revisions of my work. I think this is important to do because some students are afraid of failure. By providing an opportunity to revise work before the ultimate grade is given, it shows respect toward the student. Preceptors understand that, as students, these rotations are learning experiences meant to perfect our knowledge, not provide unwarranted stress. It is important to provide the opportunity to revise work in order for the student to succeed as a professional. I was also very honest with my preceptors by relaying that I was actively seeking constructive criticism as much as they were. I realize that these experiences are my best opportunity to seek constructive criticism and become the best professional possible. It is hard to hear sometimes, but I believe that constructive criticism is necessary in order to change habits. I found it helpful when feedback was provided regularly after each task so that it was fresh in my mind. It allowed me to truly focus on the task at hand and what to change in the future versus providing feedback on multiple tasks at once which can be confusing.

Both of my completed APPEs have helped me cultivate the necessary skills to become a pharmacy professional. I am grateful to have had such amazing experiences, and I hope that the rest of my experiences are equally rewarding. I think one of the most important things for preceptors to do during rotations is to encourage their students to ask questions. It can sometimes be a daunting task for students to do, and by providing the opportunity, the students will be able to build confidence speaking to other professionals and cultivating their own knowledge.

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