Make the Most of Your Internship

One of the student forums on the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists had a post that said this:

"I was so grateful when I was chosen to be a retail Intern for a large retail store in my area.  I have a limited pharmacy background and thought this would enhance my Pharmacy education.  I spent two summers primarily counting pills and cashing out customers.  When I arrived in the morning, all the techs scattered and the Pharmacist told me to count for a while.  Eight hours later, I was still counting.  On my last day, a temporary pharmacist arrived.  She was amazed I had not done some basic pharmacist's duties.  It is very obvious how frustrated I became during this time.

I agree an Internship should have specific goals for both the Intern and the Pharmacist.  Both should be accountable for what the Intern is learning or not learning."

Having been a pharmacy technician for just over 2 years before being promoted to intern, I felt I had to respond with my 2 cents. I think it's a very important lesson as a professional to make the most of your situation.

When you're in community pharmacy, it's [mostly] all about pushing scripts, making budget, meeting metrics. And while most people feel that in a retail setting, pharmacists are just verification robots that don't use any of their clinical knowledge, that couldn't be more false. In fact, community pharmacists must utilize a much broader range of their knowledge than those in a clinical specialty.

But I digress...

When I was promoted to intern, there were only a couple more additional duties I was allowed to do: prescription transfers, taking phone-in prescriptions, and taking voicemail prescriptions.

However, it's not just additional duties, but the status of Intern and PharmD Candidate that indicates you are a professional. Pharmacists expect you to have the initiative and drive to work at a higher level. You are lucky to be in the presence of your own personal tutor for 6-8 hours at a time. In many instances, your pharmacist is easier to talk to than your professors.

Here is a list of ways to get out of the "technician rutt":
-Come to work with a couple of questions in mind from class.
-Ask about your pharmacist's personal experiences
-When filling scripts, quiz yourself on brand/generic/classes/indications
-When the pharmacist is counseling/answering a question, stop what you're doing and listen
-If a patient asks you a question, practice your communication skills
-When typing multiple scripts for a patient, try to think about their disease states (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormone replacement, HIV, etc.)
-Look past "corporate policy" attitude and figure out the health care advantages to them.

As you can see, there are a number of things you can do to make the most of what may seem like a monotonous, repetitive job.

Remember that when you become a pharmacist, in order to effectively lead, you need to know every position.

Might as well start at the bottom :)

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Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts :)