Preceptors: mentors, coaches, and evaluators

September 28, 2022

Preceptors play key roles to develop and nurture the pharmacy profession.

A proven method to encourage professional growth is passing down expertise from experienced leaders to new practitioners. In pharmacy, precepting provides the hands-on, on-site mentorship and training to help new pharmacy professionals succeed.

Pharmacy professionals have opportunities to become preceptors for students, as both pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are required to successfully complete pharmacy practice experience to graduate. Preceptors are also needed to guide provisional registrants through the Structured Practical Training (SPT) programs.

Preceptors are essential to the continual growth and development of pharmacy professionals. This hands-on training allows students and provisional registrants to apply their knowledge and develop their skills with the support and guidance of an experienced professional. Precepting is a meaningful and measurable way to nurture our professions and individual growth.

Precepting has value not only for the student or intern, but also for the preceptor.

“Professionals can effectively maintain and improve their own skills through precepting,” said ACP’s deputy registrar, Kaye Moran. “While they help the intern understand practice, the preceptor has opportunities to reflect on their own practice and continue to evolve.”

One principle outlined in the Code of Ethics is to nurture the profession. This means all pharmacists and pharmacy technicians must use their knowledge, skills, and resources to serve patients, contribute to society, and act as stewards of their professions.  Precepting offers valuable opportunities to contribute to the future of pharmacy and nurture our professions.

“Precepting is a way pharmacy professionals can contribute to their professional responsibilities,” said Kaye. “Precepting effectively fulfills our professional obligation to nurture our profession.”

Through supporting and teaching students and provisional registrants, preceptors also gain leadership experience, fulfilling a number of impactful roles.

“Preceptors wear a number of different hats, depending on what the learner needs,” said Kaye. “With every student or provisional registrant, preceptors fulfill the roles of mentor, coach, and assessor.”

Mentorship

For many students, the pharmacy practice experience may be their first opportunity to work in a pharmacy. Students and interns rely on preceptors as role models as they explore new responsibilities and roles.

“As a mentor, you are leading by example,” said Kaye. “Preceptors model good behaviour and demonstrate how to effectively apply theory in practice.”

Preceptors demonstrate appropriate actions and model effective behaviour to provide real-world context for making decisions, working with patients, and demonstrating pharmacy skills.

Coaching

As students and provisional registrants grow more independent, they can apply their skills and learn by doing. Preceptors provide oversight and feedback as coaches while the student or intern puts into practice what they have learned through their studies and from experience in their practice sites.

“Coaching takes learning to the next step by allowing students and provisional registrants build confidence in practising their skills,” said Kaye. “Providing constructive feedback and identifying meaningful opportunities to improve will make the learning experience more impactful.”

Evaluation

As students and interns further develop and demonstrate skills, preceptors continually assess their ability to independently contribute to pharmacy services, including supporting patients.

“The preceptor plays a key role in evaluation and has to carefully assess each intern’s progress,” said Kaye.

An ongoing feedback loop is key to support the student or intern’s continual improvement throughout the process.

Throughout the process, preceptors demonstrate their expectations through mentorship, coach their learners as they practise new skills and tasks, evaluate their preceptees’ progress and success, and provide ongoing feedback to preceptees so that nothing is a surprise when the final evaluation occurs.

“A preceptor’s influence is immense,” said Kaye. “Preceptors help new professionals understand what it means to practice pharmacy and exemplify how to practise in alignment with the professionalism framework.”

This issue of Full Scale addresses how pharmacy technicians and pharmacists can become great preceptors and explores why this role is invaluable not only for the pharmacy profession, but for the preceptors’ continual growth and development as a professional.


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