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PharmD Bridging Program clinical rotations

PHARM 497, PHARM 498, and PHARM 499 are the three clinical rotation courses in the PharmD Bridging Program.  Students must earn course credits for all three rotation courses to complete the program.  The first clinical rotation, PHARM 497 involves a recognition of prior learning (RPL) process to assess each student’s clinical competence and runs for a full term.  Depending on the result of this assessment, students may earn course credits for PHARM 498 and/or PHARM 499 via RPL.  If course credit is not earned via RPL, students must complete that rotation course (i.e., may be required to complete 0, 1, or 2 rotation courses after PHARM 497).  The maximum time to complete the entire bridging program sequence is 3 years from enrollment.

Frequently asked questions

Last updated: January 23, 2017

General

PHARM 497

PHARM 498 and PHARM 499


General

Will I have to do all the rotations?

The requirements for completing the PharmD clinical rotation courses are based on the achievement of competencies and learning objectives which must be documented in order to meet the criteria for granting a new degree.  This competency assessment is consistent with that being used for students in the undergraduate entry-level PharmD program at the Waterloo School of Pharmacy.

Students must earn course credits for all five (5) courses to complete the program.  This includes earning course credits for all three (3) of the rotation courses.  A recognition of prior learning (RPL) process is included in PHARM 497 (the first clinical rotation) to determine the level of clinical competence of each student.  All students, including those who have completed a residency or other programs, must complete at least 1 clinical rotation (PHARM 497) and demonstrate achievement of all required competencies in order to meet the degree requirements.  Students who achieve a pre-defined standard in PHARM 497 will be evaluated as having achieved level 1, 2 or 3 competence (see Figure 1 below) and may be awarded the appropriate transfer credit(s).  Those who achieve a level 2 or 1 competence will be required to complete PHARM 498 or both PHARM 498 & 499, respectively.

Waterloo PharmD Bridging Program flow chart showing course sequence. ​

Figure 1. Waterloo PharmD Bridging Program flow chart showing course sequence

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Will I have to take time off from work to complete these rotations?

Yes, the clinical rotations may require some time away from your usual practice site.

PHARM 497 can be completed at your workplace if it meets the School of Pharmacy’s required criteria.  Clinical rotation site criteria are available below.   If your workplace is approved for PHARM 497, you will not need to take time off work, except for scheduled RPL assessments.

If PHARM 497 cannot be completed at your current practice site, the School of Pharmacy can place you at a site in order to generate the cases for submission.  

The PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 rotations are each 8-week, full-time (40 hours per week) rotations.  You will be placed at a rotation site for these rotations and will need time away from your usual practice site.

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I would like to gain experience in a new setting through the rotations.  Can I still complete additional rotations even if I achieve a level 2 or 3 competence?

Yes, you can choose to complete one or both of PHARM 498 & PHARM 499, even if not required to do so.  You will have to register in the appropriate course and will be subject to the usual clinical placement evaluation (graded rubric) in these courses.

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Will I be paid during the clinical rotation courses?

If PHARM 497 is completed at your workplace, you can continue to be paid as you will be performing your regular work duties.  Students should not be using working hours to complete coursework and they should confirm their organization's support for the gathering of data for patient case submissions.

If your workplace does not lend itself to the requirements for PHARM 497, the School of Pharmacy can place you at a site in order to generate patient cases for submission.  Your time at that placement site will be unpaid; however, you can continue to be paid at your usual workplace.

Note:  The School of Pharmacy will not be able to arrange clinical placements outside of Ontario and students may have to self-arrange placements, subject to approval of School of Pharmacy.

PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 are both unpaid rotations.  This is consistent with the patient care rotations completed by fourth year students in our Entry-Level PharmD program.  The students in our Entry-Level PharmD program are required to complete a series of three (3) full-time rotations of 8 weeks each in order to meet the Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) requirement for experiential training in a PharmD program.  The University of Waterloo has been able to reduce that requirement in the Bridging Program through the recognition of prior learning process in PHARM 497, which can give credit for clinical experience gained after graduating from the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program.

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Do my grades in PHARM 495 and/or PHARM 496 contribute to the assessment of my level of competence?

No, your level of competence is determined by two main factors:  your completion of our practice site exposure requirements by the time you submit your clinical experience portfolio and your course grade in PHARM 497.

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I am a preceptor for your fourth year undergraduate students.  Can I continue to be a preceptor when I am in the Bridging Program?

Thank you for being a preceptor for the fourth year students in our undergraduate entry-level PharmD (ELPD) program.

Yes, you may continue to be a preceptor when you are not taking a clinical rotation course.  That is, you may be a preceptor while you are taking PHARM 495/PHARM 496 or during a term you are not taking a course.

If you are enrolled in a clinical rotation course and placed at a practice site (i.e., PHARM 497 placed at a site to generate cases, PHARM 498, or PHARM 499) in our PharmD Bridging Program, you cannot be an ELPD preceptor during the term of your rotation enrollment.

If you are completing PHARM 497 at your own workplace, you can act as preceptor for ELPD students on rotation.  We value your contribution as a preceptor and encourage you to consider your ability to balance the workload of PHARM 497 and your site’s capacity (i.e., there are sufficient patients for both you and your student to have a good learning experience in your respective courses).  We want you to have success in both the Bridging Program and in your role as a preceptor.

University of Waterloo alumni are not eligible to be preceptors in our PharmD Bridging Program to avoid any potential conflict of interest.

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PHARM 497

When can I take PHARM 497?

There is flexibility in when you can take PHARM 497PHARM 497 is available every term; however, the earliest any Bridging Program student can take it is in their third term.   This is because PHARM 495 and PHARM 496 are prerequisites to this course.

To provide an example, Bridging Program students who enter the program in winter 2015 can take PHARM 497 in the fall 2015 term if they have completed PHARM 495 and 496 in winter and spring 2015.  That being said, they do not need to take it in the fall 2015 term (i.e. starting September 2015) unless they want to take it at that time.

Please keep in mind that the maximum allowable time to complete the program will be 3 years from the date of enrollment.

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Can I complete PHARM 497 at my workplace?

You may complete PHARM 497 at your workplace if it meets the School of Pharmacy and Experiential Team requirements. Please review the PHARM 497 Clinical Rotation Site Criteria document (PDF) to help determine whether PHARM 497 can be completed at your workplace.

If you cannot complete PHARM 497 at your workplace, please contact pharmacybridging@uwaterloo.ca to discuss alternate arrangements before you enroll in PHARM 497.

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How can I complete PHARM 497 if my workplace does not meet all the requirements?

If your workplace does not lend itself to the requirements for PHARM 497, the School of Pharmacy can place you at a site in order to generate patient cases for submission.  The number of hours to be spent at this placement site will be individualized; however, it likely could be done on a part-time basis to facilitate completion of PHARM 497 in one term.

Note:  The School of Pharmacy will not be able to arrange clinical placements outside of Ontario and students may have to self-arrange placements, subject to approval of School of Pharmacy.

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How will you determine the number of rotations I will need to complete?

The recognition of learning process is built into PHARM 497 and all Bridging Program students are required to take PHARM 497.

There are three (3) main assessment methods in PHARM 497:  clinical experience portfolio, case submission, and oral defense.  Of these three assessments, your grades from the written case submission and oral defense will have the highest weight.  Your grade in PHARM 497 and your practice site exposure since your completion of the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program will determine the number of clinical rotations you will need to complete.

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How can I strengthen my clinical experience portfolio?

The Bridging Program mirrors many of the experiential requirements from the fourth year of our entry-level PharmD program with respect to rotation mix and minimum hours required.  You can fulfill these requirements in one of two ways, either by completing the placement rotations in the Bridging Program or demonstrating your prior completion of these requirements in your portfolio (e.g., through employment or volunteer opportunities outside of University of Waterloo placement rotations).    

One part of your portfolio will be reviewed to see if you have at least 320 hours of practising direct patient care in a primary care setting and at least 320 hours of practising direct patient care in an institutional setting (from time of completion of the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy program to the time you submit your clinical experience portfolio in PHARM 497).  If not, you will have the opportunity in the Bridging Program to complete rotations in these settings.    

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What is considered a primary care setting or an institutional setting?

A primary care setting is defined as a family health team, hospital outpatient pharmacy or clinic, community pharmacy, community health centre or any other outpatient clinic.    

An institutional setting is defined as hospital inpatient pharmacy, long-term care facility (LTC), correctional facility, or group home.    

Due to the dynamic nature of our profession, these definitions are not all-encompassing.  If your particular practice has not been addressed by these definitions, please contact pharmacybridging@uwaterloo.ca.

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If I obtain at least 320 hours of direct patient care in each of a primary care setting and an institutional setting before enrolling in PHARM 497, will that guarantee that I will not have to do any additional rotations?

Obtaining this experience will strengthen your clinical experience portfolio and expand your breadth of knowledge; however, it does not guarantee the attainment of level 3 competence in PHARM 497.  Depending on your performance in the case submission and oral defense, you may still need to complete one or two rotations after PHARM 497.

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Can level 3 competence only be achieved if I have completed a pharmacy residency program?

Achievement of level 3 competence is not exclusive to students who have completed a pharmacy residency program.  While it is possible that alumni who have completed a pharmacy residency will find the case submission and oral defense assessments of PHARM 497 similar to experiences in their residency program, this does not guarantee them a grade of level 3 competence.  Conversely, there may be many Bridging Program students who, although they have not completed a residency, will do very well on their case submission and oral defense assessments.  There is no way for the School of Pharmacy to speculate how any particular student may perform in this course.  Everyone is treated equally during PHARM 497 and evaluated using the same assessment tools.

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If I pass PHARM 497, does that mean that I do not need to complete PHARM 498 and PHARM 499?

Achieving level 1 or 2 competence (i.e., being required to complete both PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 or just PHARM 498 after PHARM 497, respectively) in PHARM 497 does not represent a failing grade or a poor reflection on a student’s practice.  Students who fail PHARM 497 (i.e., achieve less than 70 per cent in the course) must complete remedial work and will not be placed in any subsequent rotations until they pass PHARM 497.  Students who pass PHARM 497 receive a designation of either level 1, 2, or 3 competence, which will determine the number of rotation courses they will receive credit for via the RPL process (and therefore whether they will need to complete 0, 1, or 2 rotation courses after PHARM 497).

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PHARM 498 and PHARM 499

Will I be able to self-arrange my PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 placements?

No, the School of Pharmacy will find placement sites for PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 within Ontario.  This is to ensure appropriate sites and minimize conflicts of interest.

Note:  Outside of Ontario, students may have to self-arrange placements, subject to approval of School of Pharmacy

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Will I be able to complete PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 at my practice site?

No, you cannot complete PHARM 498 and PHARM 499 at your current or usual practice site. You will require placement at a different site(s) to broaden your experience and avoid conflicts of interest.

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Are there any part-time rotations available for PHARM 498 and PHARM 499?

Some 16-week, part-time rotations (320 hours total) may be available; however, this cannot be guaranteed due to preceptor availability and timing restrictions. Part-time rotations will be scheduled as either 2.5 days/week or alternating between 2 days/week and 3 days/week.

It is strongly advised to take into consideration the possible requirement for 8-week, full-time (40 hours per week) rotations in your study plan.

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If you have any questions about our PharmD Bridging Program, please contact us.

General inquiries or admissions:
Rosemary Killeen,
Director, Distance Education and Continuing Professional Development

Clinical rotations:
pharmacybridging@uwaterloo.ca