Who inspired you to be a better pharmacist?

Thinking back on who you’ve met, what you’ve done, and where you are now in your career: who taught you the ins and outs of pharmacy? Who showed you the ropes, pushed you forward, and helped you develop as a professional and as a person?

Most importantly, who made you the pharmacist that you are today?

As you think about these questions, you likely have someone in mind. Maybe you have a few people in mind.

But did you know that, thanks to pharmacy precepting, you can be that someone for someone else?

Precepting is among the most rewarding experiences you can have as a pharmacist — and by partnering with local pharmacy schools, you can help students gain new knowledge, learn new skills, and hone their craft.

In the process, you can inspire the next generation of pharmacists, improve your operations, and boost your bottom line.

Take it from Megan Smith, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at UAMS College of Pharmacy. Tune in to this clip from the Beyond the Scripts Podcast:

If you’re ready to take the plunge on pharmacy precepting, here’s what you need to know first.

What are Pharmacy Preceptors?

Pharmacy preceptors are licensed pharmacists who supervise and mentor pharmacy students or residents during their clinical rotation.

They work closely with pharmacy programs to provide hands-on experience in their own pharmacy and meet each program’s requirements.

As a preceptor, you provide:

  • Mentorship: You’ll teach students about everything from medication dispensing to patient communication to insurance billing.
  • Clinical supervision: You’ll oversee students’ or residents’ work, helping them hone clinical skills like point-of-care testing, vaccines, and disease state management in your pharmacy.
  • Evaluation: You’ll offer students direct observation and feedback, which will be reported to their program.
  • Role modeling: Most importantly, you’ll act as a role model for students and residents — demonstrating best practices and showing them what it takes to succeed in the pharmacy industry.

How Long Does Pharmacy Precepting Last?

Your time as a preceptor can vary from program to program.

Typical rotations last 4-6 weeks for each student, but rotations can be extended depending on the program's curriculum.

As a preceptor, though, you can expect to work with multiple students/residents throughout the school year.

How to Become a Pharmacy Preceptor

Get Qualified

To become a pharmacy preceptor, you should hold an active pharmacist license and have experience in a relevant practice setting.

Specific programs may require a minimum number of years in practice, or they may require you to have worked with students, residents, or new graduates previously.

Find out specific qualifications by visiting the program website.

Start the Application Process

Make a list of local pharmacy schools or resident programs you’re interested in working with, then locate the applicable contacts on their websites.

Most programs have an experiential education department that you can get in touch with and start the application process, if an application isn’t linked directly on the website.

You’ll receive a formal application, and you may be asked to complete supplemental tasks — like an interview, pharmacy observation, or practice run with current students.

Complete the Training

Once you’re accepted to a preceptor program, you’ll be asked to complete training.

Training equips you with mentoring techniques, teaching strategies, and evaluation methods required by the pharmacy program.

Start the Process

With your training down, you can jump into precepting.

Being a successful preceptor is a commitment — it requires you to spend time, energy, and effort on pharmacy students and residents.

However, resources can make the burden lighter, like staff members and program faculty.

Many precepting programs offer meetings, workshops, and professional development opportunities that can help you maintain a higher standard of mentorship.

For some expert advice, tune in to this episode of the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast, featuring Jordan Ballou, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina:

10 Tips for Becoming a Pharmacy Preceptor

As with any new initiative in your pharmacy, becoming a pharmacy preceptor comes with a learning curve.

As you work with students, you’ll develop a routine — what they should be doing, when you should be evaluating them, and how you should provide feedback to them.

As you get started, though, keep these tips in mind:

1. Develop a structured preceptor program

Structure is everything, especially for students.

Developing a structured preceptor program ensures consistency for all students in your pharmacy, and once developed, saves you the headache of finding tasks for them to complete.

2. Don’t forget about orientation day

The first day in your program should be all about orientation.

Orientation can familiarize students with your pharmacy’s operations, policies, and procedures. This can help them get grounded in your pharmacy and ensure a smooth start to the rotation.

Make sure to highlight your workflow, protocols, and your expectations of students.

3. Diversify learning experiences

Once your students get started on rotation, offer a variety of learning experiences so that they can engage with all aspects of pharmacy practice.

This might mean patient counseling, medication therapy management, inventory, or administrative tasks you could use extra help on.

Remember: a preceptor program should be helpful to you, too.

4. Use technology to your advantage

Every pharmacist works with technology, so every pharmacy student should, too.

Teach students about pharmacy management systems, electronic health records (EHRs), and automation.

Learning these technologies will help make the transition to real pharmacy work easier for students and residents.

5. Work with pharmacy schools

Even after your application process, continue to collaborate with programs to ensure that you meet their learning objectives and adhere to their rotation schedules.

In addition, participate in curriculum development and evaluation processes.

This allows you to have a stake in what’s being taught to students and inform future decisions in the program.

6. Assign a precepting coordinator

If you find yourself overwhelmed with the administrative side of precepting, assign a dedicated coordinator to manage the program and liaise with programs.

This can make precepting a team effort and lighten the workload for you.

7. Provide structured feedback

As you assign tasks to students, develop objective assessment measures to offer feedback. This ensures fairness for all students and saves you time in the long run.

8. Create a supportive learning environment

As your rotation goes on, make sure you prioritize fostering a culture of learning. Provide access to educational resources and hands-on experiences so students have multiple avenues for growth.

9. Reward students

Outside of giving students a good grade, recognize the efforts they make and reward them accordingly.

This could be through formal recognition programs, professional development opportunities, or — the best-case scenario — a full-time position at your pharmacy, after the program is completed.

10. Commit to improvement

The first time you precept, you probably won’t get it perfect – and that’s okay.

Take the time to regularly review your program and ask for feedback from students.

Use the feedback to make improvements and ensure that your precepting program is one that students want to be a part of.

Resources for Pharmacy Preceptors


Precepting is among the most rewarding opportunities any pharmacist can have.

As a preceptor, you can teach, train, and encourage the next generation of pharmacists — and play a role in shaping the future of public health.

And as you teach students, they teach you, too: about the latest clinical practices, outreach tactics, and ways of communicating with patients.

In other words, they help you stay up to date on the latest and greatest in pharmacy.

Not to mention that extra set of helping hands: which can help you start a new program, optimize existing ones, and better serve your patients.

In the case of pharmacy precepting, it’s a win for everyone: for your pharmacy, your students, and — yes — even the future of pharmacy.

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