I am writing with an update regarding the direct patient care APPE rotations. Our PharmD Program leadership and Office of Experiential Education have consulted with U of T’s health sciences faculties and with our hospital and community partners. The purpose of our discussions was to determine how best to continue providing learners with safe and appropriate access to patients, to allow them to meet placement objectives and to understand how to work safely within a clinical environment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on these discussions, we have carefully revised our procedures to allow students to interact with and provide direct patient care to patients under investigation (PUI), as well as persons with presumptive or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
We have made this change for two reasons: first, experiential training in direct patient care environments is critical to skill development. This includes providing care to all patients (including those with communicable diseases). It is essential that we train future pharmacists to meet health care challenges in the COVID-19 era, which is likely to continue and evolve.
Second, while health-care professionals may be at increased risk of COVID-19 compared to the general population, the data suggests that most health-care workers that develop COVID-19 acquire it outside of health care settings..
The safety of students, patients and fellow health-care professionals remains our top priority and we would like to ensure that learners are placed in environments that are safe, and provide valuable learning experiences. There are many steps in place to protect students on rotation in health-care environments including:
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Supervision by preceptor
Training on COVID-19, infection prevention and control, and the correct use of PPE occurs at the university (e.g. our COVID curriculum), and on-site during rotations. In addition, strict adherence to public health and infection control practices (e.g. universal masking, handwashing and wearing appropriate PPE, and physical distancing) while on rotation significantly reduces the risk of acquiring COVID-19.
For more information about COVID-19 safety procedures and protocol, please review the U of T guidelines as well as specific institutional policies and procedures. Click here for more information about clinical rotation training and best practices.
After assessing the current situation and consulting with internal and external stakeholders, we believe that it is safe for our students to participate in direct patient care in health-care environments and that sites have adequate safety measures in place to mitigate risk. We encourage students to discuss concerns with their preceptor at the beginning and throughout the rotations. Where appropriate, preceptors may assign students to distanced or remote patient care activities, such as conducting medication histories via telephone.
Students with extenuating circumstances, such as medical conditions that increase their risk of COVID-19, that impact their ability to provide care during this pandemic should file a petition with the Registrar’s Office. Students may request a leave from their studies for medical reasons, but should be aware that this may result in delays to graduation timelines. If you have any questions related to graduation timelines or impact to your program, please contact Natalie Crown, Acting Director of the PharmD Program.
Pharmacists are vital members of interdisciplinary health-care teams that are working collaboratively to meet the challenges presented by COVID-19. As pharmacy learners you play an integral role during the pandemic, and we hope that this revision to our processes will provide an enriching and valuable learning experience allowing you to meet all of your placement objectives. Together with our partners, we are committed to ensuring safe learning environments for our students while maintaining the highest standard of patient care.
Associate Dean Academic
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto