Hello, my name is Dr. Tablet, but you can just call me Tab! Today, I’ll be going over the assessment process for practicums. To illustrate things, I’ll walk you through the assessment process, the grading rubric, and highlight ways we can support you.There’s a lot to cover, so let’s begin.On practicum, instead of tests you’ll demonstrate competencies by applying the knowledge and skills you’ve gained throughout the years, you’ll get valuable feedback from your practice educators and be assessed on a day to day basis in a real practice setting. These assessments will play an important role in your learning since they can confirm what you’re doing right and show you where you can improve. However, they can also be stressful, especially if you’re not sure about what’s expected or what supports are available to help you succeed.Often there will be two major assessments: a midpoint and a final. On direct patient care practicums, your practice educator will evaluate your progress based on an assessment rubric emphasizing three domains: knowledge, such as identifying therapeutic alternatives, skills, such as effective information gathering, and professionalism.
The performance levels are based on the Dreifus model of skills acquisition which describes five stages of learning a new skill from novice to advanced beginner, competent, proficient and expert. You’ve probably experienced this when you’ve learned new skills like driving. When I learned to drive, I started by studying the rules of the road.As a novice, I needed a lot of guidance from my instructor, even with simple things like reminding me of the step by step process of changing lanes. As an advanced beginner, I developed a stepwise approach for common tasks like left turns or entering highways, I could do some things on my own, but I still needed guidance and supervision and I wasn’t able to drive on my own just yet. With practice and experience, I developed the essential skills needed to make short trips on my own. But I still needed guidance for complex situations like navigating heavy traffic. But as I learned, I gradually became more independent. With more time and experience, I became proficient and was able to drive independently with the ability to adapt on my own, relying on judgment and intuition. After years of driving experience, I’ll be able to reach expert level like my instructor and perhaps teach others one day. Like learning to drive, I began my pharmacy career as a novice, learning mostly through didactic and a basic checklist approach. But with help from my practice educators, I grew my skills year after year.
Your practice educator will help by modeling required skills, as well as coaching and providing feedback. During your assessments, they’ll consider what they’ve observed, along with input from other team members to help you set goals and track your progress. Your assessments will be either formative or summative. Midpoint assessments are formative, and is feedback for learning. It identifies what you are doing well and what you can still improve. Final assessments are summative and are an assessment of learning.
Your practice educator will review your performance and compare against the expected level of skills and knowledge. For a more in-depth description, please review the student assessment forms. Now let’s meet Ella, who is currently preparing for her second year outpatient practicum. Ella was excited to start learning at her new site, but during her first week, she struggled with a lot of the clinical questions from patients and her practice educator. This made her anxious and she started to question herself, even when she knew the answer.
Worried about looking bad, she also became hesitant to approach new patients and decided to spend most of her time on technical tasks that she was familiar with. Many problems start as a gut feeling that something is wrong. But Ella couldn’t pinpoint the problem and didn’t think it was worth bringing up. Ella knew that she should reach out to her practice educator or course coordinator early to help her find the root cause of these feelings. But… Ella was afraid to admit that she was struggling, so she didn’t.
At first it was just the workload and the questions. But as she became more scared of making mistakes, she also stopped making recommendations to doctors and approaching patients. When it came time for her midpoint assessment, she fell short in a few categories since she stopped engaging in clinical tasks and her practice educator felt she wasn’t demonstrating these skills. Even though her problems started with answering questions, it ended up affecting her skills and even professionalism. In the end, Ella’s practice educator recommended her practicum coordinator to follow up with her and suggested that Ella reach out to them as well. These situations can be frustrating and difficult to deal with, especially since Ella thought she was well on track to finishing successfully. But it’s not unusual to, at times, fall below expectations in one or more categories. Keep in mind that learning is a process, and receiving constructive feedback or experiencing setbacks is a natural step in that process. But waiting to share concerns or not asking for help can slow down your progress. That’s why I encourage you to reach out for support early and give yourself lots of time to resolve issues or concerns.
Just like Ella’s situation, what can you expect when you reach out to OEE?
They’re here to support student learning so that you can be successful and have a productive experience. They’ll listen to your concerns and help you navigate everything from academic performance to well-being. Here are some common scenarios: if you’re struggling with stress or external pressures, your course coordinator can connect you with the right health and wellness resources. If you’re having difficulty with balancing your coursework or meeting practicum requirements, they can provide support and guidance. This can include helping you to create an action plan and following up with you as often as you need. If you’re not getting enough support from your practice educator or you’re having conflicts with people at your practice site. OEE can even help mediate discussions to help promote a safe learning environment.
You should feel comfortable contacting the Office of Experiential Education at any time if you have any concerns. In Ella’s case, she felt that something was wrong but waited to reach out, hoping it would go away or that nobody would notice.
Luckily, it wasn’t too late for Ella, and the OEE was able to help her create a plan on how she was going to build up her confidence over the coming weeks. They also connected her with the appropriate student resources. For the rest of her practicum, her practice educator and course coordinator worked collaboratively with Ella. In addition, Ella met with her practice educator regularly to discuss her recommendations, clinical thought process and general feedback. As Ella engaged in more patient care activities, her performance improved and her confidence grew as well.
By the end of her practicum, she was able to demonstrate the expected level of performance, and even exceeded expectations in some categories.
So that was Ella’s story.
Before you begin your practicum, it would be helpful to review the assessment rubric. And remember, if you have any concerns during practicum, please reach out for support as your practice educator and the OEE are here to support you.
I hope you found this video helpful.
Thanks for watching! I’m Dr. Tablet and I hope you have a fan-TAB-ulous practicum.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Garrett Tang (Undergraduate Student) for helping to create this video and for designing original images (e.g. Dr. Tablet).