Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Collaborative and Reflective Academic Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Collaborative and Reflective Academic Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience

Article excerpt


The academy has long been concerned about the source of future pharmacy faculty members. The collective angst, first precipitated by the graying of pharmacy faculty members in the United States, has increased with the explosive growth in new pharmacy programs, expanded enrollments, and the development of distance campuses. (1,2) The leadership of 2 of the nation's pharmacy practice organizations, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), disseminated a white paper in 2010 outlining their concerns relative to the unprecedented expansion of pharmacy education in the United States--an expansion that has included the opening of new colleges and schools and branch campuses, in addition to matriculating larger classes at established programs (APhA, unpublished data, December 2010). While some areas of the country are becoming saturated in terms of the number of open practitioner positions, opportunities for professionally and financially rewarding clinical careers still abound if graduates are flexible in where they are willing to live and work. Senior students fresh from a year or more of APPEs are excited about what lies ahead for them in the patient-care arena, and many elect to pursue practice-based residencies or evaluate employment offers that come with attractive salaries.

What has been a boon for clinical pharmacy practice has been a bit of a bust for graduate study and academia. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has acknowledged this critical reality through the work of its standing committees, the Council of Deans-Council of Faculties Joint Task Force on Faculty Workforce, and by incorporating faculty recruitment, retention, and development agendas into its strategic plan. (3,4) A variety of approaches to stimulate student interest in these research and teaching-related pharmacy career paths have been fostered by collaborative Association programming (eg, AACP/Wal-Mart Scholarship Program) and shared through peer-reviewed publications and national presentations. One approach used by many institutions to stimulate interest in teaching careers is the elective academic APPE. (5-8) This experience usually provides young professionals with an intense exposure to the teaching, research, and service missions embraced by most academic institutions, as well as with focused mentoring by an academician serving as a nurturing role model.

At Creighton University, the pharmacy faculty has long offered opportunities for students to elect an academic APPE in their final year of pharmacy school. These experiences are precepted by individual faculty members, and student experiences are generally closely associated with the work in which that individual faculty member is engaged. Although students taking academic APPEs may interact with other APPE students and with faculty members other than their preceptor, these interactions, while valuable, are generally not purposeful or defined.

Between late 2008 and mid-2009, 2 third-year (P3) students approached one of the authors (V.F.R.) to ask if an academic APPE with her was feasible. In the past, the author had gratefully acknowledged but courteously declined similar requests due to a heavy workload and the realization that not everything involved with her responsibilities as an administrative faculty member could be shared with a student protege. However, subsequent reflection on the need to contribute to the resolution of the pharmacy faculty shortage, and recognition that competent, creative, and equally committed faculty colleagues were right at hand and willing to collaborate on such a preceptorship, prompted her to have a change of mind and heart.

This manuscript presents a unique collaborative approach taken to establish an academic APPE that was grounded in mentoring, structured through meaningful activities that emphasize the variety of responsibilities involved in an academic career, and rich in reflection opportunities. …

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