5 Things You Should Never Do: Pharmacy Student Edition

I’ve precepted a lot of pharmacy students.  I have seen some brilliant ones, and certainly some that I would’ve like to have seen a little more energy and passion from.  Here’s my top 5 things you should never do if you are a pharmacy student.

  1. Show up late.  Not showing up on time goes right to the core of professionalism and will leave a very poor impression.  When you show up late, you are basically telling your preceptor that your time is more important than their’s.  Emergencies do happen, and if you are going to be late, you must notify your preceptor as soon as is reasonable.
  2. Wing it.  I have seen numerous students make this mistake.  If you don’t know an answer (which happens to everyone), simply say, I’m not sure, but I will look it up.  If it is a casual conversation where you are being “quizzed” by a preceptor, and you think you know the answer, simply say “I believe the answer is______, but I would have to double check for sure.”
  3. Dropping the ball. You will likely get numerous assignments from preceptors.  The majority of preceptors will remember the assignments they gave you.  Make sure you have your assignments completed within the deadline granted.  Dropping the ball on a question or assignment you’ve been given will certainly not look good.
  4. Respecting other members of the team.  I’ve have students sit in on team meetings.  Pay attention, put away the drug reference/phone, and don’t have conversations with fellow students while the meeting is going on.  If you are asked to look something up, then feel free to grab your resource of choice and look it up.
  5. Representing yourself as a pharmacist.  You are not a pharmacist yet, there is nothing wrong with that.  You may be approached by patients, nurses, physicians, etc. that may assume you are a pharmacist and ask you to do things a pharmacist would do.  You should not be performing pharmacist functions without oversight from your preceptor.

OVER 3.000 healthcare professionals have signed up for FREE to my 30 medication mistakes PDF – It is a list of 30 real world problems I see in my everyday practice as a clinical pharmacist!


  1. Lan

    Is number 4 something you should ALWAYS DO instead of NEVER DO? We should always respect other members of the team, in my humble opinion.

    • Eric Christianson

      Yes! It should be never be disrespectful. Thanks for catching that! – Eric

  2. Anonymous For a Good Reason

    #5 especially… don’t underestimate the capacities or situations in which this can happen. In my own personal experience, I actually had preceptors TELLING me to present myself as a pharmacist in certain situations. I didn’t think that sounded right, but who was I the lowly student to argue? This plus a typo in an email, then I found myself not only threatened by my own school, but turned in to the Board of Pharmacy by my own school, thrown the wolves by said preceptors. Half a year and expensive lawyer bills later, I did manage to clear my name and have the records sealed to try to protect my career and family. No one should underestimate at any time how fast and how heavily your “friends and colleagues” can and will turn on you, or mislead you – whether deliberately or out of ignorance.

  3. Mounir

    I have to say number 2 drives me crazy when trainees do it. Guessing is bad for the profession and for patients. I’d like also to add two very important points. 1) Always have a good reference for your recommendations (primary literature preferred) and 2) Give the team solutions not obstacles when making recommendations (alternatives, monitoring…)

    Nice work on the website and hope you can fix this article soon. Regards,

  4. Sarah

    #1–preceptors are usually volunteers and have other obligations. Respect that they are giving of their time to help make you a good colleague.

    In the always do column, I add “climb, call, confess”. This is the rule of pilots when they find themselves in trouble (climb to a higher safe altitude, call for help, confess what you did). We all mess up from time to time. Covering it up and hoping no one notices is immature and potentially dangerous.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Written By Eric Christianson

April 6, 2016

Study Materials For Pharmacists


Explore Categories