Pharmacy is a highly dynamic and evolving field. This field is constantly changing with the introduction of new medications and treatments. With pharmaceutical companies and government organizations investing more money and resources in research and development, pharmacists must stay on top of their game to be relevant in a highly competitive marketplace.
Pursuing a career in pharmacy requires an in-depth understanding of the science of drugs, disease management, and patient care. While acquiring knowledge through textbooks and lectures is essential, experiential learning can significantly impact a student’s career as a pharmacist.
Experiential learning refers to learning by doing, where students apply theoretical concepts to real-life situations. This allows pharmacy students to gain practical experience and develop essential skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. As a result, many universities are adopting structured experiential learning approaches that follow Kolb’s experiential learning theory. As a result, learning becomes more engaging and interactive. It benefits students and paves the way for a more impactful career as a pharmacist.
If you are keen to boost your career prospects as a pharmacist, looking for a university that offers experiential learning opportunities is prudent. The University of Findlay offers a distance Doctor of Pharmacy program that combines synchronous and asynchronous learning with experiential learning. This online pharmacy degree facilitates interactive learning experiences in students’ communities while they are supervised by licensed pharmacists. The degree covers IPPE and APPE programs so that students acquire the knowledge, skills, expertise, and confidence to become innovative and versatile pharmacists. Findlay’s placement team assists students in locating experiential learning opportunities and preceptors where they can use their classroom learning to develop and hone their pharmacy competencies.
In case you are still skeptical about experiential learning in pharmacy education, here are some compelling benefits you cannot ignore or cast aside.
Develops practical skills
Experiential learning helps students develop practical skills that are vital in the field of pharmacy. These skills include communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making. When students are exposed to real-life situations, they learn how to communicate effectively with patients, physicians, and other healthcare providers. They also learn how to analyze and solve complex problems like drug interactions and adverse reactions. This is essential to ensure that patients receive the best possible care.
Improves clinical judgment
This mode of learning offers numerous opportunities for pharmacy students to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-life situations. As a result, it helps them develop their clinical judgment. In pharmacy, clinical judgment refers to the ability to make sound decisions based on patient data, medical history, and other relevant information. Through experiential learning, students learn how to make informed decisions that are evidence-based and patient-centered to ensure quality care.
Teamwork is crucial in pharmacy practice, as pharmacists collaborate with other pharmacists and healthcare providers. Experiential learning enables pharmacy students to work with interdisciplinary teams, as in a professional setting. In a healthcare setting, pharmacists collaborate with physicians, nurses, and other healthcare providers to ensure that patients receive comprehensive care. Through experiential learning, students learn how to collaborate effectively with other healthcare providers for optimal treatment outcomes.
Provides networking opportunities
When you study to become a pharmacist, you have to complete a fixed number of hours of IPPE and APPE rotations. As stated earlier, when you choose experiential learning, you can complete these hours at sites of your choice and in the presence of preceptors. This enables you to establish professional connections in the field of pharmacy. You can work with pharmacists, physicians, and other healthcare providers. If you are good at what you do during your experiential learning rotations, it can lead to job opportunities and other career advancements.
Exposure to different pharmacy settings
The pharmacy programs that emphasize experiential learning do not restrict students to classroom knowledge. Through on-campus immersions and experiential learning opportunities, students get exposed to a variety of pharmacy settings in community pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics. This exposure helps students better understand the different roles and responsibilities of pharmacists in different settings. It also helps students identify their areas of interest and passion. Once that is done, students can choose their career path and thrive.
When you can apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios, it makes you confident and professional. Both these traits are essential in the field of pharmacy. Through experiential learning, you learn how to interact with healthcare providers and patients. You learn the skills to handle difficult situations, such as medication errors or patient complaints. This enables you to become more confident and act more professionally when you begin working as a pharmacist. You will not get flustered when things do not go as planned.
Promotes lifelong learning
Experiential learning promotes lifelong learning. In the world of pharmacies, things are never stationary. There are constant innovations and changes. Through experiential learning, you learn how to keep up-to-date with the latest research and advancements in pharmacy practice. You also learn how to adapt to changes in the field and continuously improve your skills and knowledge so that you are better, more efficient, and more effective in your work.
As a pharmacist, you do not have to accept things as they are. If you notice a problem, you can devise creative ways to resolve it. One of the key benefits of experiential learning is that it encourages students to think creatively and come up with out-of-the-box solutions to problems. This mindset is valuable as a pharmacist as you can look for novel ways to improve the efficiency of your pharmacy and better serve patients.
Builds leadership skills
You do not have to always be at the bottom of the rung when working as a pharmacist. You can take on leadership roles with the right skills, knowledge, and expertise. Experiential learning allows you to work with interdisciplinary teams and hone your communication skills and patient-handling abilities. These are essential when managing pharmacy operations. When you perform optimally, it leads to advancement in your role as a pharmacist.
There is no doubt that experiential learning is a valuable tool for pharmacy students. It enables them to enhance their clinical judgment and gain practical skills to prepare them for a successful and rewarding career.