FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions by Placement Providers

2nd Year Placement

In 2017, 84% of our Supervisors agreed that supervising a student contributed to their CPD. APPEL has developed some sample CPD cycles, based on some feedback that pharmacists shared regarding their experiences of supervising students.  These cycles are intended to illustrate how pharmacists can incorporate their experience of supervising students into their own professional learning journeys. These sample CPD cycles are available on the APPEL website; www.appel.ie/resources.

Students can return to a pharmacy/pharmacy department for either the Year 4 or Year 5 placement (but not for both).  However, APPEL cannot guarantee that such an arrangement can be made.

If you are not certain that your establishment will be able to take a student for the entire duration of the placement, please inform APPEL before the placement starts. In cases of emergency or serious and unexpected shortage of staff to supervise the student, please contact APPEL as soon as possible.

For UCC and TCD students, placement hours will mirror the student’s academic hours i.e. Monday-Friday, 9.30am – 5pm. For RCSI students, placement is scheduled on Tuesday afternoons from 2-5pm. Please do not alter the student’s placement hours without prior discussion with their Practice Educator/APPEL.

There will be times during the student’s placement when the pharmacy/pharmacy department becomes busy, and the pharmacy team are not immediately available to answer student questions or direct the student’s activities.  Students could take advantage of these times to complete their learning activities/workbook. Some students may complete their compulsory learning activities early in their placement and may be eager to avail of additional supervised learning opportunities.

APPEL suggests setting an agreed list of learning opportunities at the student’s induction, to encourage and enable the student to direct themselves in their learning at busy times, and for the student to make the most of the valuable experience they can gain in your pharmacy/pharmacy department.  Please note, students with no previous experience in a pharmacy environment may find it more difficult to identify self-directed learning opportunities.

The following are suggested learning activities the student could undertake.  These activities have been derived from feedback from previous 2nd year students, Supervisors and Practice Educators. Please note all these activities are suggestions only and students should be appropriately supervised at all times in the pharmacy.

  • Look at the types of medication stored in the pharmacy fridge. How does the pharmacist ensure that the fridge is maintained at an appropriate temperature?
  • Find out what is meant by the term ‘unlicensed medicine’. Where in the pharmacy are these medicines stored and how are they ordered?
  • Look at five of the Pharmacy-only (P) medicines sold in the pharmacy. For each medicine consider what information you would gather from a patient who wants to buy one of these medicines and what counselling you would provide in each case?
  • Find out what pharmacy services are provided by the pharmacy.
  • How does the pharmacy dispose of medicines returned by its patients?
  • Does the pharmacy provide any services to local nursing homes or residential care units? Find out how the pharmacy helps with medication management (e.g. blister packs, venalinks, weekly dispensing).
  • Find the PSI’s pharmacist duty log. What is the purpose of the duty log and what information is recorded therein?

Interprofessional activities:

On previous placements some students identified opportunities to observe interprofessional activities as a highlight of their placements. We understand that these opportunities may not occur frequently, however we would welcome any opportunity provided to students to accompany the pharmacist to a meeting/service delivery that involves interacting with other healthcare professionals. Examples could include; visiting a nursing home, attending a hospital multidisciplinary meeting or lecture.

Students will be given basic guidance about appropriate dress, demeanour, and behaviour before going on placement.  If you have a concern about a student in this regard, please contact a Practice Educator.

For the 2nd Year placement, students are assigned to their placement primarily based on geographical location. APPEL will try to place all students in a pharmacy/pharmacy department in which they have no significant prior experience. However, exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis.

A major review of the five year pharmacist qualification was commissioned by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, called the PEARs (Pharmacy Education and Accreditation Reviews) project.  This review recommended the introduction of a five year fully integrated pharmacy programme to replace the previous 4+1 model (four year degree followed by one-year in-service practical training). In 2015, SI 377 of 2014 came into effect, legislating for this change. The new programme provides students with experience of patient-facing situations and real-life pharmacy practice at several stages before they attain their qualification. This early practical experience helps students to contextualise their theoretical studies and will provide them with the skills to meet the demands of the ever-changing face of pharmacy in healthcare.

The student can be introduced to patients/customers and colleagues as a pharmacy student on placement and/or the student could wear a badge provided by APPEL, that identifies them as a pharmacy student.  Please discuss your preferences with the student. Feedback from previous 2nd year students indicated that students felt they greatly benefited from the opportunity to improve their communication skills with patients in a “real-life” environment.  Students are encouraged to interact with patients, and to reflect on these interactions in the context of their own professional development, under the supervision of their pharmacist.  Students are also reminded before they go on placement, to be mindful not to treat the patients they meet as “case studies”, but to be respectful, courteous, and empathetic at all times.

Please notify APPEL as soon as possible.

If the student is unwell during their placement, please excuse them from attendance and/or help them get medical care, as appropriate. If a student fails to attend their placement or calls in sick, please inform APPEL as soon as possible. Students will also have been advised to contact both their Training Establishment and their Practice Educator if they are going to be absent from their placement.

4th Year Placement

Legislation requires that students are under the supervision and guidance of a pharmacist while on placement. During 4th year this person is known to APPEL as a “Preceptor”.   This means that there should be a pharmacist available to the student on their placement for guidance and direction, but they do not necessarily have to be the person directly supervising the student.

The Preceptor is required to meet the student every four weeks; technology such as Skype can be used to facilitate these meetings. Two such meetings must be face-to-face.

A 4th Year Preceptor can oversee a maximum of three students.

Students and Preceptors will be provided with an attendance timetable well in advance of their placements. Placements are expected to comprise approximately 30 hours per week as students will continue to engage with their Schools of Pharmacy while on placement, e.g. through online tutorials.  In is anticipated that students will attend their training establishments on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 5.30pm.  This will allow the Schools of Pharmacy to deliver online and distance learning on Wednesdays.

APPEL will provide preceptor training.  A choice of face to face and/or online training will be provided. Preceptors will also be provided with a 4th Year Placement Handbook.

Practice Educators based in each of the 3 Schools of Pharmacy will be available to support Preceptors and their students before, during and after placements.  The APPEL team are also available to provide support to Preceptors.

There is no requirement in this regard for 4th Year Preceptors.

APPEL oversees the common experiential learning placements undertaken in the three Schools of Pharmacy (UCC, RCSI and TCD). The common placements overseen by APPEL are:

The 4th Year placement is a four-month placement* completed from September to December in an APPEL-accredited training establishment. These placements can be undertaken in a breadth of practice settings.

The Schools of Pharmacy are committed to developing graduates that are prepared for careers in all sectors of pharmacy practice. APPEL’s aim is to provide students with a broad range of experiential learning opportunities. These experiences will help expose and prepare students for the various roles a pharmacist can undertake. The 4th year placement is the ideal opportunity for students to broaden their practice experience and to further develop their curriculum vitae (CV).

* Many students have expressed interest and availability in working at their placement provider’s establishment in the July and August prior to their placement. Such an arrangement would be outside the APPEL programme.

Preceptors will be responsible for overseeing students’ competence appraisals. It is anticipated that this will take place twice during the placement. The Schools of Pharmacy will be responsible for all other assessments.

Yes. However, it should be noted that APPEL’s governance, training and placement requirements are unique to the APPEL programme.

Placement providers have a unique opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of their organisations in the Schools of Pharmacy, among pharmacy students and throughout the pharmacy profession. Organisations wishing to develop their talent pipeline can use this opportunity to engage with future Pharmacy graduates. This programme offers a wonderful opportunity for placement providers to engage with talented and highly motivated students and inspire them to consider a career in their organisation or practice setting.

Undertaking preceptor training can support your (CPD) continuing professional development. In 2017, 84% of our 2nd Year supervisors agreed that supervising a student contributed to their CPD and 88% found it a rewarding and enjoyable experience. Previous course attendees have commented on how the skills they developed at APPEL training were highly applicable to their engagement with other team members in their practice.

Students undertake a 4-month placement from September to December of 4th year. This can be undertaken in “all practice settings”, i.e. community, hospital, industry and role emerging practice (REP) settings. In 2018, placements will take place from September 3rd to December 21st 2018.

APPEL prefers to provide students with fresh placement experiences. This approach supports students to broaden their practice experience. In exceptional circumstances, APPEL would consider providing a placement in a training establishment where the student has been employed, e.g. where there is no other feasible alternative for the student.

All absences must be reported to APPEL. If additional placement time is required as a result of this absence, it is APPEL’s role to secure this additional placement time in an appropriate training establishment.

Placements are unpaid.

Students will indicate their geographical and practice setting preferences. They will then be provided with a choice of training establishments, from which they will select a number of preferred training establishments. Training establishments will receive CVs from these students for consideration. There will be defined timelines in which placements can be offered and accepted.

Interviews can be undertaken so that the best fit possible is achieved between students, their training establishments and their trainers.

All students are required to undergo vetting as part of their registration for the integrated pharmacy programme. In order to reduce the requirement for training establishments to also undertake student vetting, APPEL provides Vetting Written Joint Agreement forms which delegates the task of vetting students to the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

Students will be provided with learning activities to complete during their placements, which will be assessed by their School of Pharmacy.  These learning activities will be delivered through three academic modules:

  • Professional Practice e.g. legal, ethical and professional challenges in practice.
  • Personal Skills e.g. decision making and leadership skills.
  • Organisation and Management Skills e.g. self-management, HR, financial management, QA.

It is envisaged that students will develop their competence in these areas by completing the academic modules and practicing the competencies with mentorship and guidance from their placement provider. These competencies have been chosen for 4th Year to reflect the diversity of practice setting where the students will be undertaking their placements. The placement activities will vary greatly depending on the placement organisation and the stage in the students’ development. Guidance on suitable activities will be provided by APPEL.

There is no project to complete during the 4th Year placement.

APPEL Placements are for four months in duration from 3rd September to 21st December 2018. Many students have expressed interest and availability in working at their placement provider’s establishment in the July and August prior to their placement. Such an arrangement would be outside the APPEL programme.

Placements are timetabled by APPEL to ensure that students have dedicated time for both directed and self-directed learning. APPEL is happy to consider requests for an exceptional timetable modification on a case by case basis.

Frequently Asked Questions by Students

2nd Year Placement

You can gain valuable information from all members of the team, so questions may be asked of anyone. Keep in mind that you should pick suitable times to ask questions.

Remember to discuss and to plan your learning activities with your Supervisor. If your Supervisor does not allow you to engage in the activities right away, make the most of your time and be patient.  You will still gain important experience by observing the pharmacy’s operations and engaging with the team. If the situation persists after several days, discuss the issue with your Practice Educator.

You are on this placement to learn and are required to be supervised. You should alert your Supervisor immediately if you believe that you have made a mistake.  Do not be afraid to admit that you have made a mistake, or that you think you may have made a mistake.

Discuss your concerns with your Practice Educator.

Answer questions put to you by the pharmacy staff as best you can, but don’t pretend to know more than you do. The training establishment will be briefed that you are at an early stage in your training. APPEL will also provide some high-level information to the training establishment regarding what areas your coursework has covered, and therefore your Supervisor will be aware of what stage you are at in your pharmacy course.

You should take direction from your Supervisor regarding all interactions with customers/patients. Be respectful, courteous and empathetic at all times. Take care not to treat patients as “case studies”. If a patient does not want to engage with you or feels uncomfortable continuing to engage with you, then you should respect their feelings and ensure that the pharmacist can follow-up with the patient.

If you make an effort to always act in a professional, friendly and helpful manner, you should get along well with staff, patients and customers. Discuss with your Supervisor or contact your Practice Educator if you have any questions or concerns.

Experiential learning is designed to expose students to real-life practice, and so it is not desirable, nor feasible, for your supervisor to be actively teaching you at all times. All APPEL Supervisors are volunteers, who are generously giving their time and expertise to help support you with your development.  Supervisors are committed to teaching you, but this will be undertaken within the context of a busy working environment. Therefore, your learning will be achieved through doing, observing and through active engagement with your Supervisor and other pharmacy team members.

There are many learning opportunities to be had from undertaking such activities, for example:

  • Reading Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) will support you to develop your own SOPs when you are a registered pharmacist. SOPs are an integral part and a required element of all pharmacies and pharmacy departments and ensure consistency and quality across all activities undertaken. Therefore, reading and understanding SOPs is a required duty of all staff and students based on site at each pharmacy.

 

  • Date-checking or unpacking medicines will provide you with the skills to support your own pharmacy team to undertake stock management when you enter practice. It’s also an opportunity to learn about medicines’ storage, develop familiarity with medicines and start to spot SALADs (sound-alike, look-alike drugs). It also provides you with the opportunity to take note of and document the many drugs you may not be familiar with at this stage in your course, and to make notes to learn further about these at a later/appropriate time from your Supervisor and the references available to you.

Managing patient returns provides insight into adherence with medicines.

All placement Supervisors are provided with a copy of the APPEL Supervisor Handbook; copies of the Supervisor Handbook can be found on www.appel.ie. APPEL holds Training Events around Ireland to help to support Supervisors in advance of the placements. The APPEL team and Practice Educators are also available to Supervisors to answer any queries they may have.

You are allowed to undertake your 4th Year and 5th Year placement (but not both) in the same pharmacy where you attended the 2nd Year placement.  However, APPEL cannot guarantee that such an arrangement can be made.  You may engage in part-time, holiday and/or summer work experience with the 2nd Year placement establishment, but such arrangements are between you and the training establishment.

APPEL will endeavour to arrange a placement close to your stated location preference. Please remember that it may not be possible to arrange a placement to suit everyone’s location preference. You will be provided with a choice of possible placements for your longer 4th and 5th year placements, but this is not feasible for these short 2nd year placements. Therefore changes to this placement are only possible in exceptional circumstances and no changes can be made without the prior approval of your Practice Educator.

You are encouraged to take up part-time, holiday and/or summer pharmacy work, but such work will not count towards fulfilling any APPEL placements required by your 5 year pharmacy programme.

If you fail to complete the placement and/or all of the learning activities, you will need to discuss the matter with a Practice Educator and/or an academic advisor in your School of Pharmacy.

4th Year Placement

Contact APPEL in the same manner that you would contact them if you could not attend your placement on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Depending on the circumstances, APPEL may also request that you contact specified persons within your HEI (e.g. your Practice Educator, your tutor, academic module coordinator) and provide appropriate documentation if required.

Remember that completion of activities on Wednesdays, especially week 2, can comprise a significant proportion of the marks awarded for each of the academic online modules.

It is not anticipated that this will be required during the 4th year placements as the online modules/learning activities will be applicable to all practice settings.

An important part of experiential learning is to help you develop the various competencies required for pharmacy practice. During the 4th Year placement, you will complete three online modules, which will support you to develop competencies relating to self-management, workplace management, human resources, financial management, quality assurance, leadership, change management, critical thinking, decision making, team working, communication and legal and ethical issues.

Placement providers will also present you with experiential activities to complete during your placement. These activities will vary depending on the placement organisation and could include a project, experience in multiple departments, etc. The activities will support you in developing the competencies above. APPEL will provide guidance on experiential learning activities to training establishments.

APPEL will match all eligible students to a 4th-year placement in an APPEL-accredited training establishment. The matching process will allow students to indicate preferences for practice placements based on (i) geographical location(s) and (ii) preferred practice setting, e.g. pharmaceutical industry, hospital etc. Based on these preferences, students will then be provided with a choice of placement providers to whom their CV will be forwarded. The placement providers will then select student(s) for their practice placement from this cohort. This process will commence in Spring 2019, and the exact timelines and process will be communicated to students well in advance.

APPEL is responsible for quality assuring the placements. This involves robust processes and procedures for selecting, assessing, accrediting and appointing preceptors and training establishments. All Preceptors will be trained by APPEL and there will be support structures in place for students and preceptors during the placement.

If you are unable to attend your placement due to illness or emergency, you are required to contact your training establishment and Practice Educator at the earliest possible opportunity. Although 100% attendance is expected from students while on placement, non-attendance will be managed by Schools of Pharmacy in accordance with their HEI Attendance Policies. If additional placement hours/days are required, as a result of non-attendance, the School of Pharmacy will request APPEL to make the necessary arrangements.

Students will indicate their geographical and practice setting preferences. They will then be provided with a choice of training establishments, from which they will select a number of preferred training establishments. Training establishments will receive CVs from these students for consideration. There will be defined timelines in which placements can be offered and accepted.

The placement will take place from September to December*. Students will be provided with an attendance timetable well in advance of their placements. Placements are expected to comprise approximately 30 hours per week. Students will therefore have dedicated time for both directed and self-directed learning. The proposed timetable is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9am to 5.30pm (with 1 hour for lunch).

*This placement can be extended to 6 months (commencing July) if mutually agreed by both placement provider and student

Preceptors in each training establishment will undertake performance appraisals which will assess students’ competence against defined behaviours. You will also be assessed by academic staff using tools such as projects, examinations etc. Full guidance on this assessment will be provided in advance of your placements.

If possible, students are asked to arrange meetings or calls with placement providers outside of scheduled teaching activities. However, your Schools of Pharmacy wish to support students in making the best placement matches possible and understand that students may in some cases be absent from lectures to meet with potential placement providers. Where this is unavoidable, please ensure that you inform the relevant people within your School of Pharmacy before any planned absence.

APPEL oversees the common experiential learning placements undertaken in the three Schools of Pharmacy (UCC, RCSI and TCD). The common placements overseen by APPEL are:

The 4th year placement is a four-month placement* completed from September to December in an APPEL-accredited training establishment. These placements can be undertaken in a breadth of practice settings.

The Schools of Pharmacy are committed to developing graduates that are prepared for careers in all sectors of pharmacy practice. APPEL’s aim is to provide students with a broad range of experiential learning opportunities. These experiences will help expose and prepare students for the various roles a pharmacist can undertake. The 4th year placement is the ideal opportunity for students to broaden their practice experience and to further develop their curriculum vitae (CV).

* Many students have expressed interest and availability in working at their placement provider’s establishment in the July and August prior to their placement. Such an arrangement would be outside the APPEL programme.

Students can choose to include references on their CV, or state that “references are available on request”.  In either case, please ensure that you have informed those providing references that they may be contacted by a placement provider to verify your reference.

Wednesdays are reserved, within the placement timetable, for placement-related learning activities including online and distance learning. Students who wish to have part-time jobs are encouraged to do so on weekends and evenings.

APPEL prefers to provide students with fresh placement experiences. This approach supports students to broaden their practice experience. In exceptional circumstances, APPEL would consider providing a placement in a training establishment where the student has been employed, e.g. where there is no other feasible alternative for the student.

Placements are timetabled by APPEL and attendance during placement hours is mandatory.  If students are unable to attend due to illness or emergency, they must notify both their training establishment and their Practice Educator as soon as possible. Furthermore, they should make their Practice Educator aware of any anticipated nonattendance well in advance of the placement.

The 4th Year placement can be undertaken in a broad variety of practice settings. The 4th Year placement is the only opportunity to undertake an APPEL placement outside of community or hospital pharmacy.

APPEL expects to provide 4th Year placements in: the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical consultancy, regulatory affairs, research, the health service, professional bodies, community pharmacy, hospital pharmacy departments, etc. For the foreseeable future, all placements will take place within the Republic of Ireland.

Many of the 4th Year placements will take place in organisations which were not available to students undertaking the previous model of pharmacy education.