May 28, 2014
Chris Dolan, PharmD'15, shadowing Dr. Rivka Siden, a preceptor at the University of Michigan Health Systems. Photo by Ryan DasGupta.

Article by Yihan Sun, PharmD'15. Edited by Ryan DasGupta, Joslyn Neal, Sonja Grinfeld, Julie Francisco, and Dr. Karen Farris (Rho Chi faculty advisor).

The Rho Chi Shadow Program was established in 2013 by the Rho Chi Honor Society to promote career exploration and foster professional networking by offering P1, P2, and P3 students a one day shadow experience in their area of interest. The shadow experience is offered on two or three separate days each semester. Prior to the beginning of the semester, students and preceptors are contacted separately by email to gauge interests and availability. Then, Rho Chi matches students with a preceptor or alumnus based on student interests and availability and facilitates the communication between the matched student-preceptor pairs. In the past two semesters, we have matched over 60 students with preceptors.  

What makes our shadow program stand out is the broad range of shadow experiences. Thanks to our dedicated alumni and preceptors, students may explore numerous pharmacy practice settings ranging from community pharmacy to clinical pharmacy to nontraditional pharmacy (e.g. long-term care pharmacy, research pharmacy, pharmacy administration). Importantly, in this experience, students are able to choose the setting where they most want to observe and engage in new activities.  

The benefits of the shadow program have been voiced by both preceptors and students alike. From the perspective of preceptors, the shadow experience helps them develop and continue to improve their teaching and mentoring skills. In turn, good mentors make a difference in a student’s professional development - the inspiration, wisdom, and career advice provided to students are invaluable.

“The Rho Chi Shadow program was a really great experience. It allowed me to meet with pharmacists and explore other areas of pharmacy that I never could have on my own. We have a few chances to interact with practicing pharmacists before our fourth year, but rarely do you get to see the day-to-day operations of a specific area of pharmacy or have the chance to sit down for an extended period of time and talk with pharmacists outside of your pharmacy curriculum. I hope to continue participating in this great resource,” states Hugh Nguyen, Class of 2016.

“I had a wonderful experience with the Rho Chi Shadow Program.  It gave me an early opportunity to experience a unique pharmacy practice environment prior to P4 year. The pharmacist I shadowed was very informative and had impeccable expertise.  I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity,” adds Connor Luczak, Class of 2016.

Unquestionably, the University of Michigan student pharmacists may benefit from the Rho Chi Shadow Program. We would like to expand this program to include more experiences and places of practice. If you are interested in becoming a shadow program preceptor, please complete the short online survey, and a Rho Chi representative will contact you. If you would like to receive more information about the program, please contact us by email at [email protected]. Thank you for supporting student professional growth at the University of Michigan College Of Pharmacy. We look forward to hearing from you soon!