Students complete a workshop to review scheduling, expectations, region-specific nuances, and to answer individual questions. They also review an online manual which includes information on pre-experience requirements, student responsibilities during the placement, and relevant policies. Students learn how to reflect on the meaning of Community Service Learning and plan to support patients from vulnerable populations in future professional settings.
Students complete three eight-week rotations in one of 14 regions throughout Ontario. The primary focus of the rotation is the provision of direct patient care. Students complete 1-2 rotations in primary care (community pharmacy or ambulatory care clinics) and 1-2 rotations in institutional sites (hospital or long term care), during which time they build relationships, provide clinical care to their patients, and better understand the pharmacist role in these practice settings.
The patient care rotations combine apprenticeship concepts (where students are learning from their preceptor) and interprofessional concepts, such as working with other health care professionals to provide patient care.
Students are assessed by their preceptor at week 2 (feedback only), week 4 (midpoint) and week 8 (final).
They are also assessed at the end of the rotation by an interprofessional evaluator who is a member of another regulated health profession. The student is evaluated on the 6 domains from the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative Interprofessional Competency Framework (e.g. Interprofessional Communication, collaborative leadership, role clarification, etc.).
During each rotation, students are enrolled in a patient care course consisting of three major components: clinical practice, interprofessional evaluation and a Community of Practice Assignment. The purpose of the assignment is to fill a need or gap within their community, such as developing patient educational materials or creating a presentation for a specific patient population or healthcare practitioner. Presentations by the student may consist of updates to treatment guidelines, patient training with respect to medical devices, or education of healthcare practitioners on pharmacy-related content.
At the conclusion of each eight-week rotation course, students are asked to complete a feedback report. Within the report are comment sections focused on having the student reflect on their practice experience.
Key success factors
- Experiential coordinators maintain strong professional relationships with partners and stakeholders on a provincial, national, and international basis.
- The program focuses on quality of sites rather than quantity. There has been a steady shift towards recruitment of sites in certain practice areas in order to meet student demand.
- Making small evidence-based, purposeful changes over time has proven to be a sound approach in terms of enhancing preceptor and student experiences, increasing work flow efficiencies and demonstrates our commitment to quality assurance and continuous quality improvement.
Students are assigned to a region for their rotations, meaning they may very likely be exposed to an unfamiliar community. Part of the experience is building relationships and trust with their patients and other health care providers.
- The Regional Clinical Coordinator model facilitates the use of a Train-the-Trainer framework in order to accurately and effectively deliver content and messaging to a wider audience. Key messages from the Experiential Coordinator are communicated to the regional team, who then educate our 270 preceptors spread across 205 practice sites in Ontario.
- When the healthcare sector experiences budgetary cutbacks as a whole, this typically impacts the resources available at the sites and their ability to support a learner. While the pharmacy profession has welcomed new clinical privileges and opportunities over the past decade, there have also been multiple changes to the pharmacy funding model. While students involved in patient care rotations are not paid, the sites may no longer be in a position to dedicate resources to hosting a learner.
- There's competition from other pharmacy faculties in some regions, which means it's critical for the Regional Clinical Coordinator to have strong relationships with partners in these communities. If planned properly, sites can accept students from more than one institution at different times throughout the year.