Frequently Asked Questions

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Related FAQs

Q: What will happen to my scheduled rotations?

A: Unless you hear otherwise from the Office of Experiential Education (OEE) or your preceptor, IPPE and APPE rotations will continue as scheduled.


Q: What if I have a reason that I don't want to go on rotatio while coronavirus is a concern?

A: If you have personal or health reasons that cause you to be uncomfortable or prohibit you from attending rotations due to COVID-19, please contact the Office of Experiential Education as soon as possible at 804-828-3005 or


Q: What happens to out-of-state or international APPEs?

A: OEE will follow university, state, and CDC guidelines concerning out-of-state and international travel. If your out-of-state or international rotation gets cancelled, OEE will work with you to identify an alternate rotation so that you can successfully meet program requirements.


Q: What if I am exposed to COVID-19 while on rotation?

A: Currently, the CDC recommends the following, depending on the type of exposure. We will update as the recommendations change.

  • Low Risk - brief interaction with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
    • Self-monitor your health for 14 days and let your preceptor and OEE know. Unless told otherwise, you should be able to stay on your rotation.
  • Medium/High Risk - close contact with a person with symptomatic, laboratory-confirmed COVID-19
    • Stay home (self-quarantine) for 14 days. Let your preceptor and OEE know. If exposure prevents you from successfully completing a rotation, OEE will work with you to schedule and complete the rotation at a later date.



  • IPPE 530 and 532: Prerequisites are on hold as IPPE rotations have been paused until further notice. Notification of the new prerequisites due date will be announced once the IPPE restart date is determined. 
  • IPPE 533 Patient Care: Until further notice, no additional hours can be accrued.

OEE is working on a plan for those who have not completed their 20 hours. Information will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

  • Class of 2020 APPEs:
    • The experiential environment is rapidly shifting and changing due to COVID-19; therefore, your patience during this time is appreciated. 

What are the rotations and when do they take place?

The Doctor of Pharmacy student must complete three Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) rotations in the first three years of the program, and eight Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations in the fourth year of the program, as follows beginning in 2011:

P1: PHAR 530 - Community Pharmacy Practice - 4 wks (160 hrs) at the end of the spring semester

P2: PHAR 532 - Hospital Pharmacy Practice - 3 wks (120 hrs) at the end of spring semester

P3: PHAR 533 - Service-Learning - 23 hrs during the P3 year for Class of 2014 and beyond

P4: PHAR 760 - Acute Care Pharmacy Practice I - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 761 - Advanced Hospital Pharmacy Practice - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 762 - Geriatrics Pharmacy Practice - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 763 - Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Practice - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 765 - Elective - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 766 - Elective - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 768 - Advanced Community Pharmacy Practice - 5 wks (200 hrs)

P4: PHAR 773 - Acute Care Pharmacy Practice II - 5 wks (200 hrs)

The IPPE rotations for P1s and P2 take place after final exams of the spring semester. The IPPE Service- Learning experience for P3s takes place throughout the P3 year. The APPE rotations for P4s begin the 3rd Monday in May, are interrupted for a winter break, continue the 2nd Monday in January, and conclude on the 4th Friday in April.

What should the student do if the preceptor does not respond to the student's initial contact?

First, verify the accuracy of the contact information, whether email or phone. Always be mindful that a message sent does not mean the message was received. Contact the preceptor via a different route than the initial contact. If still not successful in reaching the preceptor, contact the IPPE or APPE Director for assistance. 

Can students have jobs while on rotation?

Yes, but their employment schedule must not interfere with rotation hours that are set by the preceptor. The student’s primary job while in school is school itself; employment does not take priority over the rotation. Therefore, the student’s first obligation is to the rotation schedule and preceptor’s assignments. 

Can students be paid for rotation hours?

The student must not receive any remuneration from the practice site or preceptor to which he/she is assigned. Certain gratuities are acceptable, such as free or reduced-cost meals or housing at the site. 

What is the preceptor to do when the student is absent from the rotation?

Illnesses, employment, potential job or residency interviews, bereavement, inclement weather, family/personal events, traffic delays, failed alarms, or other absences or tardiness do not take priority over rotation assignments.  If the student is unable to attend required rotation hours and responsibilities because of such circumstances, the student must notify their preceptor immediately, or ahead of time when possible, and for each day they will be absent.  Time away from the rotation site for such circumstances must be made up in order to fulfill the course requirements and Board of Pharmacy licensure requirements.  (The Rotation Absence & Make-Up Time form is available in in CORE/RXpreceptor ( [log in] > Document Library).

In the event of inclement weather, the student must adhere to the instructions of the preceptor and site.  If the preceptor excuses the student due to weather conditions, the time missed should be made up before the end of the rotation. The decisions of VCU to close due to inclement weather do not apply to students on rotations.

What are pre-approved excused absences?

Time away from rotations for pre-approved excused absences does not have to be made up. Pre-approved excused absences are granted for three purposes only:

  1. Four (4) designated holidays: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day. The days preceding and following the holiday are regular rotation days. As will occur in practice as a pharmacist, the student may be asked to work on the actual holiday and be off on another day. (Christmas Day and New Year’s Day fall during the winter break when no rotations are scheduled.)
  2. Attending the VCU SoP Employment/Residency Fair, in whole or in part.
  3. Attending a state, regional, or national meeting provided the student has approval in advance in writing from the Dean’s Office, for a specific number of days that may vary from student to student.

What happens if a student wants to attend a state or national professional meeting?

If the student wants to attend a professional state, regional, or national meeting, the student must first submit an Absence Record form to the Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Services and secure prior approval of the absence according to guidance in the Student Handbook. Preceptors should be informed of their assigned students’ excused absences one month prior to rotations. The student will provide a copy of the approved absence form to the preceptor if requested. If the Associate Dean grants a pre-approved excused absence to the student, time away from rotations to attend professional meetings does not have to be made up.

How firm or flexible are the rotation hours and work assignments?

Both students and preceptors must be mindful at all times that the primary objective of experiential rotations is learning. Therefore, attendance is mandatory to fulfill the required number of hours for each IPPE and APPE rotation (and also fulfills the internship requirements of the Board of Pharmacy for pharmacists licensure). Daily work schedule times are site-dependent and determined by the preceptor. The student should follow the preceptor’s schedule as much as possible, with any deviations approved by the preceptor and with the student having an alternative supervisor during the preceptor’s absence. The student should be prepared to work on weekends and evenings if requested, as extended hours frequently occur in most practice sites; and as will occur in practice as a pharmacist, the student may be asked to work with the preceptor on a holiday and be off on another day. Preparation, homework, active participation, frequent communications, completion of assignments and duties, and evaluations are required if academic and licensure credit are to be received. Although not in a traditional classroom, homework may be assigned and must be completed on time. The hours should not exceed 50 hours in any week at the practice site. Time necessary to complete homework assignments outside of the practice site should not be included in the 40-50 hours per week rotation experience.

What items should be included in the orientation on the first day?

At the beginning of each rotation, the preceptor should provide an on-site orientation and present the student with a schedule, activities, and other site-specific documents pertinent to the rotation, and review of the syllabus and evaluations. If not provided, the student should prompt the preceptor for any available documents. Daily starting and stopping times are site-dependent, may include nights and/or weekends, and are determined by the preceptor. Students should examine the schedule and other documents and make sure they understand any special projects, reports, and evaluation procedures. In addition, a tour of the site and introductions to co-workers is desirable, along with a review of the student’s portfolio.

What do students know about HIPAA?

VCU students receive HIPAA training during their P1 year. Students must become familiar with their practice site’s HIPAA policies and requirements at the beginning of each rotation. All patient data reviewed or discussed during the rotation must be kept confidential. When discussing a patient outside of the immediate practice area, or with anyone not involved in the patients care (e.g., in public areas of the hospital, at case presentations, or professional meetings) the student must never reveal a patient name. Any breach of patient confidentiality, however minor, will result in dismissal from the site and failure of the rotation.

Do students have professional liability coverage?

Students are covered for professional liability by the self-insured risk management plan of the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, students may individually carry professional liability insurance. 

Who is responsible for the student's medical expenses when on rotation?

All students must be covered by health insurance. Neither the school nor the site will be liable for any medical expenses incurred by any student participating in the program. The student must determine ahead of time if any of their rotation sites specifically require students to have their own individual health insurance coverage. If the site has provided this information to OEE, it is listed in CORE/RXpreceptor in the site description. Students assigned to the Inova campus during the P3 and P4 years are required by school policy to have personal health insurance to cover their medical needs.

What happens if the student is exposed to a blood-borne pathogen while on rotation?

The student must be familiar with the School’s Blood-borne Pathogen Exposure during Experiential Education policy and procedure in order to be prepared if and when such an event occurs. Students assigned to the Inova campus rotations during the P3 and P4 years must be familiar with the Inova Health System Exposures Control Plan. (See course/rotation syllabus for more information)

What should pregnant students be mindful of for rotations?

Students who are pregnant during their enrollment in the School of Pharmacy need to be aware of certain measures that are most important while on rotations. The student is responsible for updating their health record with the Student Health Center. Special considerations may need to be given in regard to the immunization policy and rotation assignments. These adjustments may be necessary to avoid high-risk clinical exposures and certain teratogenic drugs such as chemotherapy. The student shall notify the IPPE OR APPE Director and the preceptor, and make every attempt to ensure their own safety and the safety of their unborn child. Missed time due to pregnancy will be subject to established absence policies. 

What are the attributes of professionalism?

The School’s Attributes of Professionalism are expected of all students, faculty, and staff:

  1. Scholarship & Commitment to Excellence – Actively engaged; demonstrates strong work ethic; strives to exceed minimum requirements; punctual; prepared; conscientious; seeks additional knowledge and skills
  2. Accountability & Initiative – Accepts personal responsibility; demonstrates reliability and follow through with commitments in a timely manner; accountable for his/her performance; recognizes limitations and seeks help when necessary; addresses individuals who demonstrate unacceptable behaviors
  3. Self-Growth & Self-Care - Commits to life-long learning; seeks and applies feedback for improvement; sets and achieves realistic goals; maintains personal health and well-being; avoids harmful behaviors
  4. Responsibility & Sense of Duty - Contributes to the profession; provides service to the community; follows established policies
  5. Compassion & Respect for Others - Displays empathy; considerate; cooperative; sensitive; respectful of different socioeconomic backgrounds and cultural traditions; avoids promoting gossip and rumor; respects authority
  6. Integrity & Trustworthiness - Demonstrates high degree of integrity, truthfulness, and fairness; adheres to ethical standards; maintains confidentiality
  7. Teamwork & Professional Demeanor - Interacts effectively with others; listens and communicates effectively; willing to assist others; flexible; nonjudgmental; controls emotions appropriately; inspires trust; carries oneself with professional presence
  8. Concern for the Welfare of Patients - Treats patients and families with dignity; respects patient privacy, values and belief systems; advocates for patients; places patients’ needs above their own; promotes a culture of safety

What's appropriate and inappropriate use of technology by the student?

Appropriate use of technology during rotation hours includes use of computer resources or the student’s smart phone -- with preceptor’s prior knowledge and permission -- for rotation-related work, such as accessing drug information literature. Inappropriate use of technology during rotation hours -- such as personal use of cell phones for texting, calls, email, games, etc. or use of any devise for internet shopping, checking Facebook, etc.-- is not permitted. Further, inappropriate use of technology may result In Unacceptable scores on the Professionalism evaluation and dismissal from the rotation.

What happens if a student is unable to complete a rotation?

If for any reason a student cannot start a rotation, has to leave a rotation (e.g., illness, discipline problems, excessive absences) or fails a rotation, the student must make up the missed rotation. This make up rotation may or may not be scheduled within a short period of time and will depend on preceptor and site availability. In addition, making up the rotation may interfere with advancement to the next academic year or delay the student's graduation. Any actual or potential delay in graduation must be discussed with the Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Services. APPE students must complete all eight (8) Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotations within two (2) academic years, or risk being dismissed from the program.