Pharmacists tend to be, as a matter of course, the first healthcare professional patients turn to when they have a question about their wellbeing. But this is especially the case in rural areas like Pinedale, Wyoming. That’s where Altitude Drug is located. Kylah Bowers is a pharmacist there, and she spoke with us about her additional role as preceptor.
Bowers has been precepting for six years and has worked with a total of nine students so far.
“Students need to know that we play a vital role in the healthcare team. In our small community we need to make sure we go above and beyond to take care of our friends and neighbors and to provide them with top-notch service and care,” said Bowers.
Bowers wants her students to be prepared for anything that comes up when a patient walks through the door. While teaching students skills, such as assessing prescriptions and communicating with patients, is obviously important, Bowers wants to pass on more than just practical everyday skills. She wants to instill confidence in her students so they really are ready to tackle any number of situations.
“At Altitude Drug we offer three different types of experiences: general pharmacy for P2 students, advanced community for P4 students and management and marketing also for P4 students. I try to tailor each of these to be as hands-on as possible,” added Bowers.
The general pharmacy rotation students learn the backbone of pharmacy work, she explained. Duties include input, troubleshooting insurance, filling prescriptions, learning medication counseling points and becoming familiar with OTC options. Patients work side-by-side with the pharmacy team to learn how to effectively optimize patient care.
The advanced community rotation, continued Bowers, builds on the general pharmacy responsibilities. Students are involved in community-outreach events such as medication take-back events, Medicare plan reviews, and MTM. Students are also expected to coordinate an outreach event that interests them. “In the past,” said Bowers, “we’ve had students put on brown-bag lunches at local senior centers, visit preschools for poison prevention education and also present on opioid abuse to our local prevention team including law enforcement.”
For students who want to do it all, as it were, the management and marketing rotation is the one to take, continued Bowers. This rotation includes the responsibilities of the previous two options with a focus on what it takes to run a locally owned pharmacy. Students learn about the business side of things, including payroll, paying taxes, monitoring inventory, creating ads and helping to build rapport within the community. “This is my personal favorite rotation and I hope students leave with the knowledge of what it takes to run their own pharmacy,” Bowers said.
As a preceptor, Bowers makes it a point to learn each of her student’s strengths, but also believes it’s beneficial to get them a little out of their comfort zone so they can become well-rounded pharmacists.
“For example,” she recalled, “I had one student who was very afraid to write anything. At our initial meeting he was terrified that he was required to write newspaper articles for our local paper. He was adamant that he’d never be able to do it. By the end of his time with us he had written four impressive newspaper articles and was so proud of himself — which makes us proud, too.”
What she hopes for most is that these future pharmacists work to advance the pharmacy profession. “Knowledge goes both ways,” Bowers said, “and I have learned a lot from my students as well. I believe precepting is so important to our profession because it helps shape future pharmacists and experienced pharmacists alike.”
Amber Hughes, a 2017 doctor of pharmacy candidate who was precepted by Bowers, offers a glowing endorsement. “Kylah always puts her patients’ welfare ahead of everything. She won’t fill prescription combinations that are likely to cause adverse reactions. Knowing her patients and keeping them safe is always her top priority. Pinedale is lucky to have a pharmacist who is knowledgeable and considerate.”
Certainly, the investment Bowers makes year after year is paying off already.
Do you know a preceptor who goes the extra mile to build the pharmacy profession? Click here to nominate them today.