Preceptor Prepares Pharmacy Students for Patient Care

Pacific University pharmacy students come to Jennifer McElravey steeped in knowledge of drugs and drug interactions. 

As a clinical pharmacist and preceptor, it’s her role to help them bridge the gap between what they’ve learned in the classroom and providing direct patient care.

“When students come to me, I say, ‘You have all this knowledge. You know about how drugs work. You know about drug interactions, but can you actually explain that to a patient and can you adjust their medication?’ 

“There’s a big difference,” she said, “between being able to do it on an exam or to talk about it in class vs. telling a patient how their medications work and then really making those adjustments in clinic.” 

McElravey works at the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Beaverton, Ore. — where she works directly with patients, helping them manage medications for such chronic diseases as diabetes and asthma. The outpatient clinic provides primary care and pharmacy services to more than 11,000, low-income patients each year. 

She’s also a preceptor with Pacific’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program, serving as a mentor to third-year students during clinical rotations. 

Students shadow McElravey through her work and eventually begin seeing patients independently. 

“The goal is for them to ... watch what I do,” McElravey said. “At the end of their rotation, they are seeing patients independently; basically, doing the same thing I do.”

In addition to mentoring students through their rotations, McElravey also helps show Pacific’s students the breadth of opportunity available for pharmacists. Prior to becoming a clinical pharmacist at Virginia Garcia, she worked as a pharmacist for independent drug stores, for a worldwide healthcare company, and even as a nuclear pharmacist, specializing in the compounding and dispensing of radioactive materials for use in nuclear medicine procedures.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there,” she said. “You can work in industry, in a hospital, a nuclear pharmacy, a clinic or in drug information. 

“It really depends what you want to do after graduation.” 

Dec. 15, 2017