Category: Professional Posters
Purpose: In 2010, Houston Methodist Hospital established an unpaid pharmacy student observership program offered to students after completion of their first or second year. Information about the program is available on the hospital website and Deans of Colleges of pharmacy in Texas help promote the program by informing students of the opportunity to apply. The 6-week program is designed to expose students to various areas of hospital pharmacy practice. The students benefit by expanding their professional network connections and the department benefits by forming valuable relationships with talented and motivated individuals.
Methods: Students apply by submitting a curriculum vitae and letter of intent to the coordinator of the observership program. Interviews are granted to the first 25 applicants that successfully submit their application. The committee members consisting of clinical specialists and administrative specialists select the summer observers based on a 15-20 minute telephone interview that contains standardized interview questions. These questions are designed to ascertain the student’s interest and understanding of the observership program, determine if the student would be a good fit for the institution, and identify qualities that would make them a successful candidate for the program. The top two candidates are then selected based on overall scores from the interview. Once selected, the summer observers are asked to complete a hospital application in order to facilitate access to electronic health information access and hospital email account. Prior to the start of the program, the committee prepares the daily schedule for shadowing experiences, meetings with different managers, administrative specialists, and potential project experiences.
Results: The goal of the program is to provide the observers with access to pharmacists in operational and clinical roles. Summer observers are able to rotate through various areas of central pharmacy to observe different operations; they also shadow clinical specialists in different specialty practice areas and meet with several administrative specialists and managers in their area of expertise. Typically, the shadowing experiences are scheduled for the morning and project work are in the afternoon. Furthermore, the observers work on multiple quality projects throughout the 6 weeks, gaining hands-on experience with evaluating goals and outcomes, entering and analyzing data, and deriving conclusions. Finally, the committee offers several sessions for professional development to provide tips on curriculum vitae and letter of intent writing, presenting a formal presentation, and participating in a mock interview for residency or job. Most of our past summer observers have pursued PGY-1 and PGY-2 post graduate training. Some of the barriers and challenges to the program include lack of funding for parking and lodging expenses for students from out of town, limited resources for only two positions per summer despite high number of applicants, unexpected changes in preceptors’ schedule, and competing priorities within the pharmacy department.
Conclusion: Continuing to maintain the observership program allows for pharmacy students to gain early exposure to health-system pharmacy, encourages pursuit of postgraduate training in a variety of pharmacy practice settings, and gives the students an opportunity to see pharmacy practice in the renowned Texas Medical Center. The institution benefits through the assistance with quality projects and recruitment of future pharmacists and residents.