Advantages of Completing the IPPE in a Rural Hospital Setting

by Alicia Ross, P3, SSHP Member
July 15, 2011

During the middle of my first semester P2 year, my classmates began to chat eagerly about where they hoped to be placed for their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE), which would start the next semester.

There were a few big names that came up multiple times, but no one mentioned Riverside Medical Center. In fact, I had never heard of that institution until I was placed there for my IPPE rotation. All I knew was that it was in a rural area and was excited that parking would probably be free.

I completed an undergraduate rotation at the county public health center, which was also in a rural area, and found it to be very rewarding. It turns out that I enjoyed the rural pharmacy experience just as I did the rural public health experience.

Some of the advantages included friendly hospital staff, flexibility to choose what activities I was interested in, and preceptor availability. I have heard numerous stories from my classmates about preceptors that were too busy or just not around that much. At my site, my preceptor was available and willing to help me complete tasks and explain concepts when I needed clarification. If my preceptor did need to leave for a meeting or complete other tasks, there were plenty of other pharmacists that were available. It was nice to work with multiple pharmacists because I could learn about disease states and pharmacy administrative issues from different perspectives.

One of my favorite activities was counseling patients about their medications. For instance, I performed warfarin teachings and talked to a patient about diabetes medications. It was the perfect time for me to talk about these topics because I had just learned about them in my therapeutics course. The purpose of having an experiential rotation is to apply what was learned in class to real patients, and that is exactly what I did during my experience.

Before heading up to patients’ rooms, I would run through a practice session with one of the pharmacists to make sure I covered all of the important points. Once the pharmacist provided feedback, I was given the approval to talk directly to the patients. I would introduce myself, tell them the purpose of my visit, and ask them if it was okay for me to take a little of their time to go over the medications with them. I would start out asking the three prime questions: What did the doctor tell you the medication was for? How are you going to take the medication? What did the doctor tell you to expect? The answers provided by the family and patients determined how much more detail I would go into while explaining the medication. Herbal and drug interactions were discussed as well.

Overall, I enjoyed the experience and encourage student pharmacists to try something different for a change. Small town institutions can provide valuable experiences with some additional opportunities that may not be available in the big name hospitals. Furthermore, establishing relationships with pharmacists who work in the rural setting may be valuable for students’ future careers. The demand for pharmacists is generally stronger in less populated areas. This is especially important now due to the stagnant economy and a currently saturated market in the Chicago metropolitan area. ΓΆβ€"Β 

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