Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Preceptor Perceptions of the Importance of Experiential Guidelines

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Preceptor Perceptions of the Importance of Experiential Guidelines

Article excerpt


In 2009, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Curricular Change Summit Supplement published a list of competencies to be included in pharmacy education curricula to meet these anticipated changes in practice. (1) Communication, critical thinking, problem solving, motivational interviewing, cultural competence, and professionalism are examples of recommended topics to be addressed in both classroom lectures and experiential pharmacy education. Although these topics are expressed to students as important aspects of experiential education, student feedback suggests that experiential preceptors may not recognize or value these recommended skills depending on the applicability or extent of use in their practices. Practicing pharmacists may not be aware of the need for specific task training, may not know how to effectively train students in a specific skill set, or may simply not consider the task to be relevant or important in their particular practice setting. For tasks that preceptors consider to be not as important, learning transfer could be negatively impacted in pharmacy students.

The pharmacy practice experiences required of pharmacy students provide reinforcement of classroom instruction within a work environment. (2) Work environment experiences, specifically supervisory support and opportunities to perform tasks, are critical components to the transfer of learning, which is defined as the degree to which a learner effectively applies the knowledge, skills, and attitudes acquired during the learning process. There is a negative correlation to transfer of learning in those instances in which the supervisor (preceptor) does not consider the learning to be relevant, applicable, or important to job performance. (3) The value the preceptor places on the learning directly impacts the opportunity for students to practice applying that knowledge. Tasks not perceived as important may be neglected or addressed at only minimal levels.

Creating congruency between the ACPE Appendix C framework and what preceptors teach in the "real world" is not only a challenge, but an integral component in the experiential training and education of pharmacy students. Preceptors are one of the critical links between pharmacy education in the classroom and actual practice. Preceptors must be aware of those areas valued by both ACPE and the college to provide optimal experiential education. Experiential education staff members must consider preceptor values when preparing programs for preceptor development and provide sufficient direction and education to ensure that all skills are adequately addressed in the experiential setting.

While preceptor training programs or sessions are commonly conducted by colleges and schools of pharmacy in order to improve experiential programs, the emphasis appears to be focused on teaching precepting skills rather than on the student tasks and activities to be reinforced. (4,5) The AACP Professional Affairs Committee has suggested that programs "... include the competencies of leadership/ management skills, embodiment of practice philosophy, role modeling as a practitioner, commitment to excellence in scholarly teaching, effective communication skills, and encouragement of self-directed learning." (5) Experiential education staff members need to provide preceptor development programs that not only enhance teaching and professionalism skills, but also educate preceptors about current and future trends in pharmacy education as indicated by ACPE and AACP.

The intent of preceptor development programs is to provide preceptors with tools to incorporate new educational trends into their daily practices. Based on preceptors' perceptions of the importance of topics covered in the classroom curriculum, preceptor development must also address the importance of incorporating current ACPE requirements with practice setting needs. A review of pharmacy literature found few articles discussing preceptor perceptions. …

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