Four months ago I wrote Maximizing your Pharmacy Internship Experience which was geared towards the new generation of pharmacists. I wanted to encourage and guide pharmacy interns properly into the working world. Now that you are armed with the knowledge and zest for your internship here are 10 best practices that will help you succeed.
1) Ask smart questions. Don't ask lazy questions (see 10 Behaviors Pharmacy Interns Should Avoid)
A smart question is one that is thoughtful and requires a researched answer. For example, you can ask, “The patient’s blood sugar is in the low 100s but the anion gap is still over 20. Should we stop the insulin drip or continue?” The answer is lengthy and a bit debatable about what to do. Either way, you will learn so much more from a question like this than a lazy question (see below).
2) Take notes
Unless your brain is a computer, I highly recommend a small notebook and a pen. If your preceptor is going to take the time to explain all about the 3 different types of acute coronary syndrome, you better start taking notes.
3) Dress appropriately for the position
Wear a short lab coat, pants or long skirt, and blouse. Short coats signify that you are a pharmacy student or intern. Long coats indicate that you are a physician or working pharmacist.
4) Respect and use appropriate titles for your preceptors and staff
Listen to how your preceptors and staff are introduced to you. That is how they want to be addressed by you.
5) Be punctual
6) Offer assistance to staff
In almost every pharmacy, it gets extremely busy. It’s perfectly acceptable and appreciated if you volunteer to assist. You can make coffee, manage the cashier, counsel patients, and make IV antibiotics. If you are willing and someone is supervising you, then offer your help. You will learn more by doing than by shadowing.
7) Follow rules implemented by the facility, department, and staff.
8) Manage time wisely.
Write a list of things-to-do and figure out which needs to be done first. Give yourself a deadline. For example, review all ICU patients by 10 AM or make IV antibiotics from 11 AM to 12 PM. If there isn’t enough time to finish your daily assignments, then you need to discuss the problem with your preceptor.
9) Follow-up on requests.
If a staff member has a drug information question for you, please answer it. It may take extra time but you cannot brush it underneath a rug. Just because you forgot it doesn’t mean that the staff member or preceptor forgot it. Your evaluation can be affected by your oversight.
10) Maintain open communication with your preceptors.
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