5 Pearls on How to Impress Your Preceptor on Clinical Rotations

I’ve had a lot of students come with me on rotation.  I’ve had some future rock stars work with me as well as some students that have left a little more to be desired.  How do you avoid striking out on your rotation or internship? Here are 5 ways on how to impress your preceptor on clinical rotations.


  1. Never Be Late. I know, I know, its a double standard that your preceptor can be.  Always show up a AT LEAST few minutes before you are expected to be there.  It is common sense and professional.  In the event you are going to be late, let them know ASAP.
  2. Ask questions.  Asking questions shows that you are genuinely interested in what you are doing.  The type of question you ask also says a lot about your skill level as well.  Take two questions: “Does lisinopril cause hyperkalemia?” VERSUS “What would you do if this patient had a potassium of 5.6 on lisinopril?”  The first one you could look up in Google.  The second one shows a greater understanding and that you are trying to figure out how to clinically apply drug information and critically think about patient scenarios.
  3. Speak at Appropriate Times.  If you are in a team meeting with numerous healthcare professionals, this is not the time discuss a patient case with another student potentially interrupting the meeting.
  4. Be Bold.  Ask to do things you want to do.  This shows initiative, plus you get to experience new things and see if you like them.
  5. Be a “Yes” Man or Woman.  When you are asked to do a project say yes.  Most preceptors are very willing to give you time to work on projects.

If you are a pharmacist or recent student, feel free to add your thoughts below – also subscribe to the blog and get my 30 medication mistakes; a free 6 page PDF based upon my real world experiences as a clinical pharmacist!



  1. Bill Jones

    Something I tell students is every day is an audition. It might be an audition for a letter of recommendation or even if you will be a candidate for a residency position or for a job.

    I would re-frame #2 to BE CURIOUS. It is not so much looking up answers, but assessing information IN DEPTH.

  2. Misty Pinkerton

    I would also consider this.
    Clarify expectations: You may not always be given a straight forward “to-do list” for assignments like you may have received in school. So if you’re unsure of what is expected for a project or assignment, ask EARLY. It’s better to clarify expectations now than to get to the due date and confess that you weren’t sure what to do.

    Along those lines, if your preceptor asks you to do a project/assignment, clarify, “when would you like me to have this completed?”
    You don’t want to be sitting on it for a week when they expected it the next day.

    Good luck students! May/June will be here faster than you realize. Use your rotations to their fullest potential and learn as much as you can. Ask to be part of unique experiences while you’re in the field. You may not have the opportunity to witness a heart cath when you’re working as a pharmacist.


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Written By Eric Christianson

November 4, 2015

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