Skills of a Pharmacist: Experiential Education and Patient Care Labs

At the Concordia University Wisconsin School of Pharmacy, we believe that you learn best through applying your knowledge and skills in real-world patient care settings. We have committed pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, and resources to give you the best applied-learning experiences in pharmacy education.

Application happens predominantly in two settings:

  • Simulated patient care laboratories on campus
  • Actual patient care sites providing pharmacy services

Both of these learning environments play crucial roles in your development as a pharmacist. Every skill you’ve ever learned required practice: Riding a bike. Playing an instrument. Playing a sport. Driving a car.

Pursuing your doctorate in pharmacy requires significant outside-the-classroom experience, too; or at least we believe it should. School of Pharmacy Director of Experiential Learning Melissa Theesfeld and Assistant Director Sarah Peppard explain why the commitment to simulated patient care experiences in our teaching laboratories is so important.

Applied Patient Care

The profession of pharmacy is dynamic and changing. To practice in the full scope of your pharmacist license as an integral member of the health care provider team, you need the skills both for today and for the next 35–40 years-no matter where you take your career.

CUW’s School of Pharmacy boasts eight patient care teaching laboratories in the curriculum, including the six Applied Patient Care (APC) courses; the pharmaceutics laboratory, where non-sterile compounding skills are developed; and the advanced pharmaceutics laboratory, where sterile compounding skills are developed.

Your success as a pharmacist starts with the application of direct patient care skills in our Applied Patient Care (APC) Teaching Laboratory. 

In the APC laboratory, you’ll learn and are provided with many opportunities to practice the skills needed to help patients improve their lives with medications, including:

  • Medication histories
  • Comprehensive patient health histories
  • Patient education on new and refill medications
  • Care plan development and delivery
  • Physical assessment
  • Immunization, and patient self-injection administration and education
  • Clinical documentation
  • Inter-professional provider communication
  • Self-evaluation and reflection
  • Peer evaluation
  • Lifelong learning and professional development

From the start of the APC lab in your first week, you’ll have the opportunity to work with more than 40 simulated patients. These experiences help you prepare for work with actual patients in the experiential education courses in the curriculums that begin in your seventh week in your first semester.

Your ability to master the skills above is fostered at CUW by a 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 ratio of you and pharmacists. Yes, pharmacists who care for patients on a daily basis.

Remember your lab sections of 20, 30, or even more students per instructor? That doesn’t happen at CUW. We put more than 40 pharmacists from our own faculty and advanced practice pharmacists from the community in the APC lab to teach you the skills you need in 1-to-1 or 1-to-2 ratios. Your skills are developed and assessed by the same professional you aspire to be. We think this is the right and only way to teach.

Experiential Education: IPPEs and APPEs

The experiential education portion of our curriculum is a critical element in your learning experiences. CUW’s location just 15 miles north of downtown Milwaukee is a great asset, as it allows us to partner with numerous Wisconsin hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. This translates to invaluable clinical experiences for you, the student.

Our academic calendar model incorporates two-week blocks of dedicated time for Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs). This establishes a method for understanding the pharmacist’s role in patient care early in your pharmacy career.

For Pharm.D. students, Experiential Education coordinates both IPPEs, which occur during the first three years of the professional degree program, and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) during the P4 year.

Our online Experiential Education learning software is provided by E*Value.

View our Experiential Education Resource Manual for Clinical Instructors and Students.

While students aren’t responsible for finding their own rotation sites, you can submit requests for rotation sites to the Office of Experiential Education [LINK]. (Students enter preferences for all rotations using E*Value.)

The CUW School of Pharmacy offers both required and elective Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs) for P1-3 Pharm.D. students.

The required IPPE courses occur during each semester of the P1 and P2 years. Elective IPPE courses are offered during each semester of the P3 year. Two weeks in the middle of each semester are devoted to required IPPE rotations. There are no didactic courses on campus during these weeks, letting students focus their learning on the experiential site.

During each of the first four semesters, students will complete a one-week rotation in a hospital pharmacy and a one-week rotation in a community/retail pharmacy.

Elective IPPE courses are longitudinal, semester-long experiences that can focus on more specialized areas of pharmacy practice.

View 2015–2016 Experiential Education schedule.

Contact the Experiential Education Staff

Our Experiential Education staff can answer questions specific to experiential learning at the CUW School of Pharmacy.

Director of Experiential Education
Melissa Theesfeld, Pharm.D.
262.243.2769

Assistant Director of Experiential Education
Sarah Peppard, Pharm.D., BCPS
262.243.2757

Program Coordinator for Experiential Education
Lyndsey Sheridan
262.243.2754