Student Pharmacist Internships

Why Student Pharmacist Internships Need to Be Paid on APPE/IPPE Rotation Sites

Why Student Pharmacist Internships Need to Be Paid on APPE/IPPE Rotation Sites:

The path to becoming a professional pharmacist is a tough one. It’s not just the academics that are challenging, but the rotations and internships as well. Just think about it: pharmacy students have to do somewhat similar tasks as their professional counterparts but don’t get paid for it. In other words, they can suffer from being overworked, having inadequate breaks, and working split shifts without their time and effort being rewarded.

Those who want to become licensed pharmacists in the US must have a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree from an accredited pharmacy school as well as pass the state pharmacy licensure examination. Apart from the academics, acquiring an internship is helpful as it provides a training ground as well as increases the chances for better employment opportunities after school. On top of that, student pharmacists are required to do rotations (be assigned to different pharmacy settings) during the fourth or final year of primary school.

The life of a pharmacy student is a tough one but one that needs to be experienced in order to kick-start professional life. Given the nature of what student pharmacists have to do, it only makes sense that they should be getting monetary compensation. And there are many reasons why that should be the case.

Reasons Pharmacy Students Should Be Paid

  1. They do work similar to that of paid counterparts

Rotations or internships provide opportunities for students to get an idea of what professional life will be like when they finish school. A student on rotations can be assigned to different aspects of pharmacy such as acute care, ambulatory care, and infectious disease, among others. The same thing goes for those who are on student pharmacist internships: they are provided with a practical experience to complement what they have learned academically. In short, the tasks that student pharmacists do are similar to that of their professional and paid counterparts. This then begs the question: if what they do is similar, why aren’t they being paid?

Truth be told, the US Department of Labor handed out six rules in 2010 that would justify unpaid internships. However, employers need to stick to those rules otherwise they would be in violation of the law. In other sectors, unpaid interns have been making their voice heard and the companies they have sued have been forced to settle or make changes to their internship program.

A pharmacy student doesn’t need to be paid that much, despite the fact that they do similar work to paid professionals. However, the fact that they are required to perform more or less the same duties as professionals means they are entitled to some form of stipend.

  1. They are here to get a first-hand experience of what professional life will be like

Those who are on student pharmacy internships or rotations are there for the learning experience. They are there to get an idea of what professional life will demand of them; they are able to observe professionals perform tasks and therefore form an idea of what life will look like for them once they enter the professional world. Getting a first-hand professional experience is what internships are about. They tell students: this is what it will be like in a couple of years.

The kind of professional work done by pharmacists involves earning wages for a day’s work. So if a student pharmacist devotes their time and effort to getting tasks job for whomever they are assigned to, aren’t they entitled to receive at least some form of compensation?

Not every student is financially healthy so receiving a bit of money in exchange for their time and effort can go a long way.

The professional life involves reaping rewards for doing a job. The same should be the case for pharmacy students.

  1. They are not there to replace existing employees

A student pharmacist doesn’t walk into a company to be a replacement for employees who have already been there for years. They are there to learn more about their field and get an overview of what professional life is like.

However, there are cases where employers have hired someone who has done work for them or has interned with them in the past. This is normal as internships can also provide opportunities for students to prove their value to employers: if they do a good job then they increase the chances of getting hired full time.

One of the rules that the Department of Labor handed out for unpaid internships is that interns are not necessarily entitled to a job at the end of the internship. Although they don’t necessarily need to be hired doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. So while they render services towards course credit, the least any employer can offer is a minimum wage as thanks for their time and service.

  1. They provide much-needed assistance

Days at the pharmacy aren’t always boring. There will be days filled with excitement and some days that just feel hectic. Having someone else other than the regular staff can help move things along smoothly.

Pharmacy interns are usually asked to handle customer service as well as more advanced duties. The goal of performing duties, whether for rotation or internship, is to learn the different skills and gain knowledge needed to succeed for the professional world. Being able to perform different duties, be it at the basic or advanced level, is one of the secrets to making the most out of an internship or rotation.

  1. They can offer value to an employer

Pharmacy interns or student pharmacists on rotation are not a burden to employers – they can be of value. Employers who accept students for rotations and student pharmacist internships are also allowing themselves to see future employees. Knowing which person will be offered a job to in the future can reduce hiring process costs.

Pharmacy students already go through too much stress and allowing them to render services for no wages at all does them a disservice. They deserve to be paid even if it’s just a minimum wage.

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