How many hours a week will 4th-year students attend their placements?

Students attend placement for 30 hours per week. These hours must be completed between 8am and 6pm on weekdays. The exact start and finish time can be agreed upon between the student and Preceptor.

In addition, students must be given at least a half-day (no less than 4 hours in a row) off each week for their academic work. This can be on any weekday.

Students will continue to engage with their Schools of Pharmacy while on placement, e.g. through online tutorials. There is a university requirement of 30 hours on experiential learning placement, 10 hours directed study and 10 hours self-directed study every week for 4th-Year students.

Who will supervise students while they are on 4th-year placements?

Legislation requires that students are under the supervision and guidance of a pharmacist while on placement. During the 4th-year placement, 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.

If the students Preceptor will not be supervising them directly, an On-Site Supervisor should be nominated. The On-Site Supervisor will also be offered APPEL Preceptor training.

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

What are the benefits to pharmacists who undertake Preceptor training?

Undertaking Preceptor training can support your (CPD) continuing professional development. In 2018, 88% of our 4th Year Preceptors agreed that supervising a student contributed to their CPD and 90% 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.

What are the benefits to Training Establishments that support the training of students?

APPEL 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.

What is the 4th-year placement?

The 4th-year placement is a four-month placement completed in the first semester of students’ fourth year in an APPEL-accredited Training Establishment. These placements can be undertaken in a breadth of practice settings, including non-patient facing 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).


Why is there a new programme for educating pharmacy students?

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.

What can a student do when the pharmacy team are busy?

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.