APPE Rotations: Guide & Advice

If you are a P3 student then I am sure you already have APPE rotations on your mind. If you aren’t a P3 student yet, your time will come sooner than you think. I remember being in your shoes last year, there is so much excitement, but also so much to contemplate. So I have put together a guide with what I think is the most important to consider when selecting your APPE rotations. And yes, by “select” I mean rank at the top. I too was subject to the cruel lottery of random selection, so I know it isn’t exactly choosing what you want, but hey we try out best. 

First of all, because I know every pharmacy school has slight variations, here is the set up for MCPHS University in Boston. Our entire last year, starting after P3 classes conclude, is dedicated to APPE rotations. The year is split up into a total of eight, 6 weeks blocks. We get 2 blocks off, so we complete a total of six, 6 week rotations. 4 rotations are required, these are: internal medicine, institutional, community and ambulatory care; then we have a choice of 2 electives. I know some schools who have more rotations, but each rotation is only 4 weeks, so I think it is helpful to know how mine were set up. 

Things to consider:

If you know what you area of pharmacy you love already.. 

If you are someone who already knows what they want to do, then APPEs are the perfect opportunity to get some extra experience in these areas. But, keep in mind APPEs are meant to give you a wide variety of experiences that will make you a well rounded pharmacist. Although there are obviously core required rotations that will provide this experience, it might be best to pick different electives. I LOVE ambulatory care, but I also have an elective in critical care because that will help improve my skill set more than having two rotations in ambulatory care. 

If you do not know what field of pharmacy is for you…

First of all you are not alone, so don’t start panicking just yet, save that for next year (only kidding), but honestly APPEs are the perfect time to explore a wide range of opportunities. So if you don’t know exactly what you want yet, this is a great time to discover your passion. If you have a few specific interests, then look for those rotations, but also keep in mind realistically what you want/what you are good at. For some reason the pharmaceutical industry has always fascinated me, but at the end of the day I am NOT a desk person, and I really have the drive to be directly involved with patients, so this isn’t an avenue that I ever seriously pursued. If you are someone who totally has no idea what they want to do, then explore the rotation list and see what catches your eye. 

Is location important to you?

I know for me, once I knew I had my longitudinal rotation at Yale in Connecticut, which would take up 4/6 of my APPE rotations (or 6 months), I did not want to keep my apartment in Boston. So because of this for my other 2 rotations, I ranked all the options I possibly could in NH (where my parents are from) and CT above anything in Massachusetts. This meant that I had to give up the opportunity to work with faculty members from my school, but I knew that the pharmacists I did get to work with would still be amazing. 

If staying local due to housing/personal needs is important to you, then there is nothing wrong with that. If you are a no strings attached kind of person who likes travel, I would really look into nationally offered APPE rotations (if you haven’t heard of these ask your advisors). I do not know them all off the top of my head, but I know some pharmaceutical companies and the FDA have really cool rotations!  

Is a longitudinal rotation a good choice for you?  

I have really enjoyed my longitudinal rotation at YNHH and I can’t wait to tell you guys all about it! I am planning on doing a whole post dedicated solely to my longitudinal rotation experience once its completed, but for now these are the most important pros and cons that I have discovered.

PROS:

  • Operations of the hospital and the EMR they use stays the same for each rotation
  • Ability to continue relationships with preceptors and providers
  • More time for people to get to know you personally and for you to make a good impression on them
  • More time/ability to work on longer or more complex projects/posters (For example I am on a project that isn’t due until April)

CONS:

  • Most rotations are very structured in what they allow you to complete at that institution —> my longitudinal mandated that both of my electives were done here, this was fine for me, but might be limiting for someone who wants to do industry or something not offered at that specific institution
  • Your experiences will be more limited to one specific institution —> this might be great if you really want to do a residency there, but if you want to explore the options it might be more beneficial to have your foot in a few doors rather than one
  • Pay attention to the rotations offered for specific blocks —> for example one of my elective rotations had about 12 options to choose from and the other only had 3 (also these were not available to me until after I was accepted to the longitudinal rotation so keep that in mind) 

I hope this guide helped you! APPE rotations are amazing and exciting experiences, I wish each of you the best of luck! As always if you have any more questions do not hesitate to ask!

-Madeline 

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