Two Pills Tips: Tips for the Busy Preceptor!

Tips for the busy preceptor- teaching while balancing patient care!


Embracing challenges of precepting:

Managing your time as a preceptor:


-My schedule is that I have three students at a time and they are with me all day every day for 8 weeks. So, planning is essential.

-My best piece of advice, and it may just be me, is to over-plan

-I plan out the calendar in advance and give it to the students on the first day. It is, of course, subject to change. However, it shows them my expectations up front and allows them to (hopefully) manage their time. I even include when the drafts of presentations are due and any meetings that I would like for them to attend.

-One of my best tips when it comes to planning is to provide more assignments/activities than you think is necessary. Our health science students are amazing-they are driven, have strong work ethics, and are eager to learn. The last thing I want is a bored student. Of course, the ideal is a student who is self-motivated to read the latest journal in their free time, but I think it is important to have more activities in mind rather than fewer.

-By having sufficient independent work for your students, it also helps you as the preceptor to feel less overwhelmed. In the time that they are working independently, you can be preparing for your next committee meeting, working on an IRB proposal, responding to emails, etc.

-Students can certainly help with any projects that you have, but also don’t feel like you need to originate all of their work. Before my students arrive, I reach out to several colleagues at my institution. I reach out to my physicians, pharmacy leadership, nursing leadership, and our infection preventionist. I tell them that I will have three students for x number of months and they would be happy to work on any handouts, case reviews, etc-basically whatever has been sitting on that person’s desk for a while.

Our students may not do the project perfectly, but it at least gives the person a draft to work from. I think this does a few things. It reinforces the value of our students to others within the hospital and it reinforces the value of the work to the students. It is not just busy work for them to complete, it actually matters to someone (who may be outside of pharmacy). As an example, my students are working on a patient case review for an upcoming quality meeting, a brochure for a new drug at the infusion center, and a handout for staff on our C diff testing process. I coordinated the initial meetings/emails about these projects and then met with everyone involved to discuss deadlines. I think it is a win-win.

-Patient care

-Establish expectations

-Be VERY specific-exactly how many patients they should work up, what time (to the minute) they should be ready, and what information they should be prepared to give you

-I find pre-rounding very helpful. For me on an inpatient service, the mornings are always busy. I tell students that I want a one-liner about the patient and then specific recommendations that they want to make on rounds. I do not need to hear about their extensive past medical history or every lab/vital sign. I find it easier and more efficient to do a deeper dive of patients in the afternoon. Pre-rounding improves their confidence in making recommendations and ensures that you know what they are planning to say. I find pre-rounding to be a win-win and it can be done very quickly and efficiently.

-As part of patient care, I ask students about their interests on the first day of the rotation. Knowing these interest areas can help me to individualize the rotation. I am inpatient-focused, but I know many students who are interested in ambulatory care/outpatient pharmacy. I will then focus more of my questions on transitions of care, patient assistance programs, and patient counseling. For students interested in pursuing inpatient practice/residencies, I am more focused on titration of IV medications and knowing guidelines related to inpatient care. A few minutes on the first day can set up the students to feel more engaged in the rotation and to ask better questions throughout their experience with you.

-Finally, not all topic discussions or drug information questions need to be formal. Throughout your days with students, inspire them to look up mini drug information questions or topic discussions. You can ask quite a few questions or not as many depending on the time you have available. Impromptu questions/discussions can inspire their growth mindset beyond the specific patient who they are reviewing.

Today was a brief overview on planning and patient care. If you have great ideas about how to precept on a busy schedule, send us an email at good luck with spring semester-graduation will be here before you know it!