Q: How can I actively pursue a career in clinical pharmacy education without sacrificing my clinical pharmacy practice?
Pursuing a career in clinical pharmacy education provides clinical pharmacists with the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities that can broadly be classified into four categories: teaching, scholarship, service, and practice.
- Teaching: Clinical pharmacy educators are usually heavily involved in didactic instruction and experiential education. These educators provide pharmacotherapy and pharmacy practice instruction to student pharmacists in a classroom setting at a college or school of pharmacy. Educators involved in experiential education precept student pharmacists during their IPPEs and APPEs as well as pharmacy residents and fellows during their various learning experiences at a practice site. Some educators are also involved in teaching and precepting students and health care professionals from outside the pharmacy profession. By teaching the next generation of clinical pharmacists, clinical pharmacy educators can contribute to the expansion of clinical pharmacy practice, which ultimately improves human health.
- Scholarship: Clinical pharmacy educators are also engaged in scholarly activities. Educators in tenure-track positions and those at research-intensive institutions are generally expected to seek extramural grants to conduct original research and facilitate the scholarship of discovery. Educators in non–tenure-track positions and those at teaching-intensive institutions are expected to seek small grants to facilitate the scholarship of integration, application/engagement, and teaching and learning. Regardless of setting, successful educators present their findings through poster and podium presentations at professional meetings and publish their work in peer-reviewed publications and other creative ways. By disseminating scholarly activities, clinical pharmacy educators can contribute to the evidence behind drug therapy and clinical pharmacy practice.
- Service: In addition to teaching and scholarship, clinical pharmacy educators are engaged in service to their institutions, profession, and community. Educators are often called to serve on committees and task forces to help their institutions achieve their missions. Educators are also called to be active in professional organizations and engage in professional advocacy to advance the pharmacy profession. All educators should also consider using their pharmacy knowledge, skills, and values to make a difference in the community. By engaging in service, clinical pharmacy educators can further develop their leadership skills and help advance clinical pharmacy practice.
- Practice: In addition to teaching, scholarship, and service, clinical pharmacy educators are usually tasked with developing and maintaining an interprofessional practice at a community pharmacy, ambulatory care clinic, acute care hospital, or long-term care facility. Educators practicing in the outpatient setting often seek collaborative drug therapy agreements with prescribers to treat patients with chronic disease states. Educators practicing in the inpatient setting often have privileges that allow them to round with multidisciplinary medical teams and provide pharmacotherapy recommendations to optimize patient outcomes. By maintaining a clinical pharmacy practice, clinical pharmacy educators can stay relevant to contemporary pharmacy practice and bring this much-needed relevance to their classrooms, scholarship, and service.
These opportunities come with the challenge of maintaining a balance between them. There is no “right” balance for everyone, given that no one size fits all. Depending on their training, credentials, and interest at the time, and depending on the type of positions and the need of their institutions, clinical pharmacy educators can negotiate the amount of teaching, scholarship, service, and practice with their respective department chairs and clinical coordinators/managers.
Teaching, scholarship, service, and practice are interrelated. In fact, teaching, scholarship, and service as shown in Figure 1 can be said to be the pillars of a successful and impactful clinical pharmacy practice. These pillars can help clinical pharmacy educators increase their impact and extend their reach beyond their colleges or schools of pharmacy and practice sites. Although teaching, scholarly activities, and service take considerable time away from practice, they enrich clinical pharmacy practice and subsequently extend the clinical pharmacist’s ability to optimize patient outcomes. With careful planning, lots of energy and dedication, and some flexibility, clinical pharmacy educators can strike an “appropriate” (i.e., mutually agreed on) balance between teaching, scholarship, service, and practice.
Elias B. Chahine, Pharm.D., FCCP, FASCP, FFSHP, BCPS, BCIDP
Professor of Pharmacy Practice
Palm Beach Atlantic University Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy
West Palm Beach, Florida;
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist
Wellington Regional Medical Center