St. Louis College of Pharmacy students helped treat more than 2,500 asthma patients at community pharmacies last year. Two STLCOP students helped treat more than 80 patients with diabetes in one month at the Mercy John F. Kennedy Clinic in St. Louis. And thousands of miles away in Swaziland, Africa, a pair of STLCOP students worked to ease a shortage of pharmacy technicians by developing a curriculum for a two-year pharmacy assistant program.
These are just some of the ways in which STLCOP students contribute to their communities and society as they work alongside practicing pharmacists to complete their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) requirements. A student’s final year at STLCOP will consist of eight five-week APPE rotations, where students gain firsthand experience in hospitals, clinics, community and other practice settings—close to home or possibly abroad. In short, students apply the knowledge, skills, and abilities they have learned to real-world situations outside the classroom. Examples include:
- An acute care/general medicine rotation. In these rotations, students work in a hospital or inpatient care setting, helping provide direct patient care for a wide range of patients as part of an interprofessional team.
- An ambulatory care rotation. Working in an outpatient care setting—such as a clinic or a physician's office—students help promote patient health and manage chronic medical conditions. In these rotations, students experience much one-on-one time with patients and their caregivers, conducting interviews, performing physical assessments, and providing recommendations and education on pharmacotherapy.
- A community care rotation. This rotation enables students to practice at a community pharmacy, where accessibility will give them a chance to build patient relationships and serve as a community resource.
- A health system management rotation. Working in a hospital or health system pharmacy, students learn about basic hospital pharmacy functions, other areas/departments that interact with pharmacy, and medication policy issues.
- A patient care selective rotation. Students have the opportunity to learn from a pharmacist who specializes in particular diseases or conditions, focusing on areas such as infectious disease or cardiology in either an inpatient or outpatient setting.
- Elective rotations. Students have the opportunity to select three elective rotations. Students can choose specialized practice areas—such as psychiatry, organ transplant, pediatrics, hospice, or long-term care. They may also try areas of pharmacy that don’t involve direct patient care, such as research, industry, or managed care.
By broadening the understanding of pharmacy settings, APPE rotations help students care for patients wherever they will practice pharmacy in the future. The experiences allow students to better understand, for example, the firsthand knowledge of hospital procedures gained during an APPE can help a community pharmacist address the needs of patients leaving a hospital.
APPE rotations fully immerse students in the roles and responsibilities of a pharmacist. Students work full-time serving as a community resource and building relationships with a wide variety of patients and other health professionals.
Students don’t know ahead of time just how their final year of APPE work will affect them. But they can be sure it will make a difference.