Alum Edward Long guides future pharmacists to grow through challenges, direct patient experience
By Mary Magnuson
To Edward Long (PharmD ’15), it’s never too early for pharmacy students to get direct patient care experience.
As a pharmacist at HSHS St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan, Wis., Long precepts PharmD students from the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy during their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs), completed during students’ first three years in the PharmD program.
“I really enjoy working with the IPPE students, in part because they have fewer preconceived notions and ideas about pharmacy,” Long says. “You get to impart a lot of knowledge to them that can shape how they view pharmacy or view their role within the care team.”
For his commitment to the holistic development of future pharmacists, Long is being honored as the School of Pharmacy’s 2020 IPPE Clinical Instructor of the Year. This student-nominated award recognizes a preceptor that goes above and beyond in helping students make the most of their IPPEs.
“I learned the most from this IPPE experience. Edward not only shows you what he’s doing but also allows you do it yourself,” said one School of Pharmacy student who nominated Long for the award. “He challenges my thinking by prompting questions and then discussing it with me afterwards.”
Becoming a preceptor
When Long was a student pharmacist at the School, one of his most inspirational mentors was his preceptor Paul Jest (PharmD ’11), winner of the 2018 IPPE Instructor of the Year Award. Jest oversaw Long as he completed one of his fourth-year Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Long says Jest gave him the chance to help shape patient care at the hospital by listening to his ideas and working collaboratively with him, in a way that was long-lasting and meaningful.
“Teaching seemed like something I really wanted to do for many years, and this is a way to do that while pursuing my main passion — pharmacy.”
“He did a really good job of making me feel like a part of the team right away,” Long says. “I was treated like someone who had a lot to contribute, and I was able to make a pretty decent impact on patient care. He brought me with him to everything he did, so I got to see the full spectrum of his work there.”
When Long started working at St. Nicholas five years ago, he quickly established the hospital as a place to precept student pharmacists on clinical rotations and kept his experience with Jest in mind.
“I’d always thought about teaching,” Long says. “Teaching seemed like something I really wanted to do for many years, and this is a way to do that while pursuing my main passion — pharmacy.”
Long tailors the IPPE experience to his students, so right off the bat he can get them involved in care activities related to topics they’re interested in. For students in the first year of the PharmD program who don’t know as much about the profession, Long will explain his daily tasks, such as checking and distributing medications and verifying orders.
For students at any level, Long stresses the importance of interprofessional collaboration and taking the time to critically review treatments to make sure they’re appropriate for the patient. He also likes to challenge students’ thinking skills by asking questions related to their tasks to solidify what they’re learning and experiencing. For example, he will show students patient profiles to demonstrate his approach to care, then ask them what they thought the patient’s problem might be and how they might treat it.
Long would also have students help him check medicines, verify orders in the hospital’s computer system, and create patient treatment plans.
“I learned the most from this IPPE experience. Edward not only shows you what he’s doing but also allows you do it yourself.”
“Edward understood that I was a first-year pharmacy student and that I didn’t have that much background knowledge in pharmacy,” one of his IPPE students wrote. “He explained things in terms he knew I would understand and tested me on things he knew I would be exposed to in my first year. I couldn’t have asked for a better preceptor!”
One of the most important lessons he’s learned as a mentor is that sometimes students will have questions you can’t answer — and that’s OK.
“No pharmacist knows everything,” Long says. “There will be times when a student will ask you a question you might not know the answer to. But that’s a good opportunity to show them how you would figure it out.”
Long says the award has validated him and the time he has put into precepting, and he’s grateful that he’s been able to have a positive and lasting impact on his students.
“It made me really happy to know that students have had such a positive experience that it made enough of an impact on them to be memorable after they leave my rotation,” Long says. “I’m just very thankful for the School and for the nomination.”