NDSU pharmacy students get hands-on experience
Published November 24, 2015
A group of fourth-year NDSU pharmacy students is getting valuable work experience while making a difference in patients’ lives.
Each semester, two students work with Brody Maack, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, in a five-week rotation at a Fargo clinic. One of the focuses of the rotation is a cholesterol screening process that is almost entirely developed and performed by the students.
This is where students start to become professionals.
“The rotation is making me a better future pharmacist,” said Kevin Heald, a student who participates in the rotation with Maack.
All of NDSU’s pharmacy students spend their fourth year doing hands-on work with real patients. The year is made up of eight, five-week rotations totaling 1,600 hours of experience in a variety of settings. The students get to work in hospitals, clinics and rural pharmacies.
The rotations give students their first taste of what being on the job feels like. It instills confidence and improves skills that will help immeasurably when they graduate. And seeing the different types of jobs often helps clarify where they want to work.
NDSU students often have a chance to practice what they are learning in real-world situations. Pharmacy students worked at a clinic using a screening tool and medication recommendations to help patients manage their cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease.
And it’s not just pharmacy students who get a taste of the real world as undergraduates. Students in a variety of majors hone their skills with hands-on experiences inside and outside of NDSU classrooms.
Maack’s rotation has students screen, document and make medication recommendations for patients who have a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Maack guides the students through the process. But students do most of the work. The responsibility leads them to take ownership of the process and look for new and better ways to help patients.
Physicians often use the students’ recommendations for medication changes, extra lab work and referrals for follow-up visits with the clinical pharmacist, Maack said.
“It’s great to see clinics using student ideas to help improve patient care while providing hands-on experience for students,” said Kevin Pavlik, a fourth-year pharmacy student who works with Maack. “I feel like I am really making a difference.”