Shaping the Future of Pharmacy
Published on 06 June 2022
Experiential education is a core component of a pharmacist’s training. Through experiential rotations each year, student pharmacists at St. Louis College of Pharmacy at University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis develop as professionals and use the knowledge they gain in the classroom in hands-on pharmacy practice experiences under the guidance of licensed pharmacist preceptors.
With rotation sites throughout 42 states, the nation’s capital, and 12 countries across three continents, students gain insight into the breadth of opportunities within pharmacy. Preceptors and their teams play a vital role in advancing students’ learning and personal and professional growth, allowing them to explore new career possibilities.
“Time and again, students tell us that great preceptors are the ones who take time to sit down with them and talk through how their rotation impacts their education and how to navigate the many career paths pharmacy has to offer,” said Nicole Gattas, Pharm.D., FAPhA, BCPS, director of experiential education and professor of pharmacy practice at the University. “Preceptors who encourage their students to take advantage of challenging opportunities at their practice sites are highly valued by their students because those experiences create the opportunity for students to learn new things and get out of their comfort zone.”
UHSP preceptors receive access to numerous library resources and continuing professional development opportunities. Additionally, preceptors benefit from the staff support students provide, which allows them to be more efficient and effective in their work. But Gattas notes the benefits don’t stop there.
“As a preceptor, you have a rare opportunity to train your future colleagues and market your practice site,” Gattas added. “It is very common for students to begin their careers at a past rotation site, either as pharmacists or as interns before graduation.”
The impact of the preceptor-student relationship goes beyond those working in the pharmacy. Many times, students have the chance to make an impact on the communities they work in and learn from the individuals they serve.
“The biggest thing I wanted students to get out of my rotation is the importance of community connection,” said Julie Netemeyer, B.S. ’85, RPh, UHSP preceptor and retired pharmacy manager at CVS in Highland, Illinois. “As pharmacists, we are extremely accessible health care providers, and our accessibility allows us to have conversations with patients that they might not necessarily have with their doctor. Being a resource for my community inspired me, and I wanted to share that with my students. Over the years, it’s been great to witness students at my rotation sites share their own knowledge, compassion and caring with the community.”
Each year, students have the opportunity to recognize outstanding preceptors by nominating them for Preceptor Awards, which are distributed by the Office of Experiential Education. These awards recognize the dedication that preceptors and their teams make to student success and highlight the importance that those experiences hold.
Netemeyer, who received the 2021 IPPE Community Preceptor of the Year Award before retiring in January 2022, reflected on what the precepting experience has meant to her.
“When I started precepting, I wanted to maintain a connection with St. Louis College of Pharmacy,” explained Netemeyer. “I loved my time as a student on rotations. There were preceptors who made such a difference to me, and I wanted to be able to give back in that same way. Pharmacy has been rewarding to me in so many ways, and just seeing what my students have accomplished in their careers gives me immense pride.”
Interested in Becoming a Preceptor?
Preceptors play a vital role in the advancement and success of our pharmacy students. Through their work, preceptors help to shape the future of pharmacy, while also having the opportunity to train future colleagues, scout talent and market their practice sites!
Becoming an alumni preceptor is also a great way to stay connected to St. Louis College of Pharmacy while sharing your knowledge and experience with the next generation of pharmacy leaders.
“A big benefit to having alumni as preceptors is that they understand the curriculum and can really relate to their students and their experiences,” Gattas explained. “Precepting is also a great way to network with their future colleagues and alumni community and forge deeper connections for the future.”