Section 9: Frequently asked questions


phot of a question mark

1. What will the PharmD experiential program entail?

  • Three co-op terms (students paid by employers), where each co-op term is 16 to 18 weeks in duration, interspersed through years 2 and 3


  • Three patient care rotation courses (students not paid), where each rotation/course is eight weeks in duration, during year 4 winter and spring terms
  • A set of community service learning activities to be completed any time during the PharmD program, outside class time. 

2. In the PharmD program, what are the differences between a co-op work term and a patient care rotation?

  Co-op work term PharmD patient care rotation
Duration (16 to 18 weeks) x 3 (8 weeks) x 3
Process Students apply, employers interview and rank, followed by a matching process Students will be assigned a placement
Funding Sites pay students as co-op employees; students pay co-op fee N/A (non-paid placements); these are courses with applicable tuition fees
Students’ duties Duties as per employer’s job description, for which students receive a salary during their work term Students will interview and assess patients, identify drug-related needs, review alternatives, develop and implement care plans that address actual or potential health concerns, and collaborate with interprofessional colleagues to improve patient health outcomes
Geography Based on student applications Students are assigned to a region. Regions are across the province of Ontario, with Kitchener-Waterloo and the GTA representing only a minimal proportion.
Option for student to self-arrange Yes, co-op work terms can be self-arranged by students, and School of Pharmacy will consider for approval No, patient care rotations cannot be self-arranged

3. What if I have geographical preferences for personal reasons, and feel I need to work in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) or Waterloo Region?

  • We expect to have very few (if any) PharmD patient care rotation sites in the GTA.
  • We expect to have limited PharmD patient care rotation sites in Kitchener-Waterloo.
  • Although students are assigned their patient care rotation placements, they may be able to submit a possible geographical preference for consideration under exceptional circumstances. There will, however, be no guarantees.

4. What are the expectations from the student for PharmD patient care rotations?

  • The patient care rotations constitute academic courses and will have course outlines that include a course description and student assessment section, among other academic expectations.

5. Can I fail a PharmD patient care rotation?

  • Yes, that can happen. The patient care rotations constitute academic courses, and sites can fail a student if the student receives lower than required passing grade percentage for the course.

6. Do students have to pay tuition during their PharmD patient care rotations?

  • Yes, this is required. Since the patient care rotations are courses, tuition fees will be assessed for the academic terms in which they fall. This includes incidental fees.*

* The School of Pharmacy has consulted with the University of Waterloo Student Accounts/Finance Office regarding student incidental fees while off campus during patient care rotations. The University has implemented a consistent policy for all undergraduate students, which is that incidental fees will continue to be applied.  

7. How many patients will I be expected to work up?

  • There is no minimum or maximum number of patients that are expected to be reviewed/worked up during the patient care rotation.
  • This is an active learning environment where you are responsible for your learning. All patient exposures contribute to building this skill set.
  • Your preceptor will also play a pivotal role in your learning with respect to identifying learning gaps.

8. What will be the hours of work? Will I be expected to work on the weekends?

  • Students will fulfill the patient care rotation objectives at their assigned practice site, working a minimum of 40 hours per week for each eight-week placement (statutory holidays excepted).
  • The distribution of this time may include work on weekends or evenings.

9. What is the elective course? How do I select my elective?

  • PHARM 450 is one of three mandatory fourth-year eight-week patient care rotation courses where students provide direct patient care.
  • In PHARM 450, students will be assigned to an elective setting that may occur in a second primary care, second institutional setting or any other approved pharmacy practice site. Examples include specialty clinics, homecare, and specialty compounding pharmacies.

10. Can I get a part-time job while doing my rotation?

  • Students on patient care rotations are expected to work a minimum of 40 hours per week, which may include evenings and/or weekends.
  • Students should view these rotations as a course, not a co-op placement or job.
  • Workload and tasks may differ depending on practice sites and students are expected to come prepared to practice while on site.
  • Holding a part-time job is not recommended.

11. What happens if there is a snow storm and I cannot get to my practice site?

  • Caution should be exercised when travelling. Appropriate assessments should be made regarding the risk of travel and discussions should occur with your preceptor regarding policies and procedures related to this matter.
  • Please read the University of Waterloo policy on inclement weather.

12. Is there a distribution component to my rotations?

  • The primary focus of these rotations is the provision of direct patient care.

13. Am I able to practice independently?

  • Students are able to engage in more independent practice whereby the level of supervision is to be determined by the supervisor.
  • OCP Legal Authority of Scope of Practice  outlines the specifics with respect to supervision of registered pharmacy students and interns.
  • OCP has also prepared a fact sheet that outlines the principles to assist preceptors in determining the level of supervision required and to fulfill the requirements of the Act and Regulations.

14. Are the rotation start and end dates flexible?

  • The Canadian Council for Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) is responsible for the accreditation of professional degree programs in pharmacy at the universities in Canada.
  • CCAPP requires that practice experiences near the end of the program must involve at least 24 weeks (960 hours) of full-time student placement in practice sites. These dates must also align with university term deadlines. Therefore, there is very little flexibility available in rotation dates.
  • Please refer to the patient care rotations course outline for details with respect to absences. 

15. Do I have to complete a PDPHRM course while on patient care rotations?

  • No, PDPHRM courses are required only for co-op placements.

16. Am I responsible for my own transportation while on patient care rotations?

  • Yes, students are responsible for their own transportation (vehicle or public transit) for all patient care rotations. Regional Clinical Coordinators and Preceptors will not accommodate requests for change due to transportation concerns. Exceptional circumstances should be directed to the Experiential Coordinator before the region or practice site match.

17. Will the School of Pharmacy help me find housing?

18. I have been asked to do something on my clinical rotation that I am uncomfortable with (i.e., something that contravenes regulations and/or standards of practice). What do I do/who do I contact?

Note: If your question isn't covered by the FAQ, please direct it to  

Section 8: Relevant Waterloo policies  |  Section 10: PREP team contacts