APPE Student: A Day in the Life

Our "Day in the Life" series increases your knowledge about what career paths are available, and what a typical workday entails for these professionals!

APPE Student: A Day in the Life
Photo by Siora Photography / Unsplash

With so many career options available to pharmacists after graduation, the "Day in the Life" series is meant to provide you with insights into what it's like to be a pharmacist in various areas so that you can pursue what's right for you!

*APPE = Advance Pharmacy Practice Experience. APPE rotations occur after completion of the didactic (classroom) learning of the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. The last year of a PharmD program is typically spent out in different practice sites (experiential learning).

Samantha Beck, PharmD Candidate, is a fourth-year pharmacy student at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy. Currently, she is beginning her APPE rotations and is expected to graduate in May of 2025 where she will be obtaining her PharmD with a specialization in Acute Care Pharmacy. Current organizational involvement includes APhA, ASHP, ICHP, SSHP, Lambda Kappa Sigma, Rho Chi, Phi Lambda Sigma, and CPFI.

1. Tell us a bit about your background.

Reflecting on my journey throughout pharmacy school, I started with completing three years of undergraduate studies where I started my journey in pharmacy by working in an inpatient hospital pharmacy along with an outpatient cancer center. These experiences opened my eyes to the variety that the world of pharmacy offers as I was entering into pharmacy school.

Upon starting pharmacy school in the Fall of 2021, I received my white coat and stepped into the role of Class President as well as established a new chapter of a professional fraternity with several of my classmates, Lambda Kappa Sigma (LKS). Through this organization, I held the position of Vice President to help build the framework of the chapter to ensure its success in future years.

Besides my leadership roles, I have also been an active member of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists (SSHP), the American Pharmacist Association (APhA), the Illinois Council of Health-System Pharmacists (ICHP), and Christian Pharmacists Fellowship International (CPFI). Through these organizations, I volunteered at health fairs, educational events, and a vaccine clinic. In the Spring of 2023, I was inducted into Phi Lambda Sigma and Rho Chi. In Rho Chi, I took on the role of Community Engagement Chair where I organized several service events such as a meal preparation event and a cleaning supply donation drive.

Reflecting on my academic experience, I was accepted into the Acute Care Specialization that is offered at my pharmacy school during my P3 year. In this specialization, I focused my elective classes and APPEs on areas of Acute Care such as Infectious Diseases, Advanced Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, and Critical Care. Overall, this specialization has allowed me to further explore my interests in Acute Care pharmacy not only in the classroom but now on my APPE rotations!

2. What are some of the best and worst things about pharmacy school didactic coursework?

My favorite part about didactic coursework was building a network of connections with other classmates and professors, practicing my pharmacy skills in the skills lab, and exploring my areas of interest through my elective coursework!

One of the downsides perceived with didactic coursework is the amount of studying and exams that come with learning large amounts of material. Throughout the progression of pharmacy school, you may be amazed by how much information you know and can apply in other areas in the classroom!

3. What are the main hesitations you have going into your APPE rotations?

Am I prepared enough? Am I going to meet the standards of my preceptor? While the fear of the unknown is present going into each APPE rotation, I know this fear will be overcome with time and experience.

4. Can you provide some background into how you found Infectious Diseases as your field of interest so far?

I have always been interested in clinical pharmacy, notably emergency medicine, but throughout the curriculum, I have realized that I have a strong interest in the area of infectious diseases. During the infectious disease portion of our therapeutics course, I became quite interested in this area of pharmacy; it stuck around the following fall when I took the Advanced Infectious Disease elective offered at my institution. I am currently on an Elective Infectious Disease APPE as my 1st module, and I continue to learn more every day. Although, all areas of clinical pharmacy are interesting to me, and I am quite excited to see how my other clinical APPEs are.

5. What rotation are you looking forward to the most and why?

I am excited currently being on my Infectious Disease Elective rotation due to my expressed interest in this area of pharmacy, but I am also excited for my Emergency Medicine Elective rotation later this year!

6. What rotation are you looking forward to the least?

I am quite nervous about my community pharmacy rotation since this is the area of pharmacy where I have the least amount of experience, but I am excited to learn more about community pharmacy along with interacting with patients!

toddler's standing in front of beige concrete stair
Photo by Jukan Tateisi / Unsplash

7. What are some of the challenges you expect to face moving from the classroom to clinical rotations?

As someone who has high expectations in the classroom, I am anxious to experience the dynamic shift entering a new environment every 5 weeks. While I know there will be situations where I am stuck, confused, or incorrect, I have been preparing myself to be able to ask questions, learn from mistakes, and how to put my best foot forward in every rotation experience.

8. How can current P1-P3 students best start preparing (early) for their IPPE/APPE rotations?

As a P4, my biggest advice to those wanting to prepare for rotations early is to practice time management skills! On each IPPE/APPE there will be set expectations to be met, and as a student, you will want to not only make the most of your time with each site but also respect the time of your preceptors and their colleagues who are enabling a learning environment. I believe it all starts in the classroom: come early, prepared, and ready to participate.

9. Do you feel like your APPE experiences will be better, worse, or the same as your IPPE experiences?

While IPPE rotations were valuable in teaching the roles of community, hospital, and other areas of the pharmacy world, I believe that APPE experiences will be “better” in the sense that I am finally equipped with the didactic coursework to understand important areas of pharmacy beyond the surface level. Not only will I get to utilize skills and knowledge taught in the classroom, but I will also get to expand further on what I learned in the traditional classroom setting.

10. What do you expect your responsibilities/tasks to be during a typical workday on rotation? Will it vary based on rotation experience or do you think it will be similar across various APPEs?

I am under the impression that each rotation comes with a unique experience, but overall, I expect to work with patients in a variety of ways such as direct-patient counseling, reviewing patient charts, and managing medication regimens.

boy on ladder under blue sky
Photo by Armand Khoury / Unsplash

11. What are your plans post-graduation for your pharmacy career?

I plan to apply for a residency upon the next application cycle based on how my interests develop, especially in the area of Acute Care Pharmacy. I will continue to explore PGY2 programs to decide what area of pharmacy I would like to specialize in. My current end goal is to work as a clinical pharmacist in a hospital setting, specifically in Infectious Diseases or possibly Emergency Medicine.

12. What are your goals during your APPE rotations?

I have several goals during my time on APPE rotations.

  • First, I want to learn everything that is available to learn. This means saying yes to new experiences, even if it may seem intimidating. It is how we learn.
  • Second, I want to be open-minded. While I have interests in certain areas of pharmacy that I have expressed, each site has something to teach me despite whether I decide to pursue that career path or not.
  • Third, I want to build confidence. Imposter syndrome is so real, and I have put the time into being where I am today to be able to gain these opportunities to learn. However, I want to express that this does not mean being incapable of being wrong, but the exact opposite. By building confidence in my abilities, I am also allowing myself to learn and not doubt myself for mistakes or gaps of knowledge, but to take the feedback in a constructive way to improve myself.

13. What are some helpful tips for everyday students to know that you wish you had known when you were a young pharmacy student?

My advice is to study a little every day, but make time for yourself! I had a hard time finding balance in the beginning with studying, fitness, relationships with my family and friends, and work, but again, learning time management early will help you in the long run! By my P3 year, I had a routine that not only allowed me to flourish in the classroom but also fill my own cup.

Also, it is completely okay to change your plan. You may think one thing when entering pharmacy school, but then run across a section of therapeutic coursework or an IPPE/APPE experience that may open your eyes to an entirely new passion in the world of pharmacy!

The following questions are meant to be fun and provide some insight into the culture and personality of these professionals!

1. Which pharmacy specialty is the best and why?

I think I am a little biased, but I must say that I really enjoy Acute Care (Infectious Diseases, Emergency Medicine, Cardiology, etc.).

2. Which two companies would you like to be sponsored by?

I would love to be sponsored by Alani Nu and Brooks Shoes. My favorite energy drinks and comfy shoes were how I got to this point in pharmacy school, along with my husband, family, and friends.

What pharmacy career path would you like to see next? Comment down below! 

*Information presented on RxTeach does not represent the opinion of any specific company, organization, or team other than the authors themselves. No patient-provider relationship is created.