Author Archives: tchen6

UBC Student Assistance Program (SAP)

What you will find here:  Offered by Aspiria, the UBC Student Assistance Program (SAP) is a free, 24/7 wellness resource for students. Services include personal counselling, life coaching, group programs and more based on your needs.

UBC SAP can help you with a wide range of concerns to support your mental, emotional, physical and financial health.

UBC Student Assistance Program

Working with Displeased Patients

This video explains how to work with displeased patients using a complaint resolution method known as the BLAST technique.  

Video Timestamps:

o Believe 1:06
o Listen 1:43
o Apologize 2:28
o Satisfy 2:50 
o Thank 4:49

Hello my name is Dr. Tablet, but you can just call me Tab. Have you ever encountered a displeased patient while on practicum? It can be an uncomfortable situation especially when emotions are running high. In this video, I’ll be talking about how to work with displeased patients using the BLAST technique. The “BLAST” technique is a complaint-resolution method that is helpful for addressing patients’ concerns or complaints. Let’s begin.BLAST stands for Believe, Listen, Apologize, Satisfy, and Thank. To explain how to use the BLAST method, let’s work through a scenario together:Natasha was completing her practicum at a community pharmacy when Bruce stormed up to the counter and demanded to speak with her.“You didn’t tell me these antidepressants could cause weight gain!” he said. “If I had known, I never would have taken them. I’ve gained 5 pounds in the past month and it’s all your fault.”Natasha is taken aback by this accusation, but she knows that responding angrily or defensively could escalate the situation and create adversarial feelings and mistrust between herself and the patient. When emotions are running high, it’s helpful to have the BLAST technique in your tool box to help you work through difficult situations.The first step in the BLAST technique is B, believe the patient. This refers to acknowledging and validating the patient’s experience and emotions even if there are parts of their story you don’t agree with. Even though it isn’t Natasha’s fault that Bruce gained weight, arguing this point would be counterproductive and Natasha needs to respond in a way that acknowledges his experience and validates his feelings. For example, she could say something like, “I’m sorry this happened, and I understand you feel you were not properly informed about this medication.” Accepting the patient’s concern as legitimate shows empathy and tells the patient that you hear them, you understand their concern, and you want to work with them.The L in BLAST stands for Listen. Active listening is necessary to help you discern the patient’s unmet expectations and resolve the issue. In this case, the patient is upset because he trusted the pharmacy to explain all the side effects of his medication and he feels that they failed to explain the risk of weight gain. Natasha allows the patient to fully express himself and demonstrates active listening by facing the patient with an open posture, making eye contact, and being attentive and empathetic.After Bruce is finished speaking, Natasha should restate his concerns in simple, non-medical terms. She might say something like this: “It sounds like you have some concerns about your antidepressant causing weight gain and you feel that important information may have been missed when the pharmacist counselled you on your medication last time. Is that correct?Going back to the BLAST technique, the A stands for apologize. Apologizing helps you to de-escalate the situation while opening up an avenue to provide more of an explanation without appearing defensive. Natasha might say: “Bruce, I’m sorry that this happened to you and it sounds like we could have done better. I’m open to talk about how we can address your concerns.”

Natasha’s response leads us into the next step, S, which stands for Satisfy. While you may be able to resolve certain concerns for the patient, there may be times when you are not able to give the patient what they want. It is helpful to address these things first so that patients have a clear idea of what you can and cannot do about their situation. It helps to manage their expectations at the onset of the conversation to prevent further misunderstandings. You might consider asking the patient what they want as it gives them some control over their situation and offers you more information about what they expect from you. If the patient proposes a reasonable solution, the problem may be solved without further conflict. If the patient proposes something that cannot be done, you can explain why their proposed option is not possible and try to provide them with other options.

When Natasha asks what would make Bruce feel better about the situation, Bruce states that he does not want other patients to experience what he went through. He suggests that Natasha explain every possible side effect, no matter how rare, to every patient that picks up a new drug. How do you think Natasha should respond to this? Is his request reasonable?

Natasha responds by saying: “Yes, I appreciate your concern and want to assure you that we also want what’s best for our patients. It may be overwhelming for some patients to be counselled on every potential side effect. Some side effects are rare and may not be applicable to all patients, so counselling is often focused on the most common side effects likely to be experienced. In your case, I could have provided you with additional written information with a comprehensive list of all potential side effects. If you want, I could provide that to you now and I’d also be happy to discuss options for managing the weight gain.”

Notice how Natasha started her answer with “yes”. Starting your sentences with positive words like this can help to show the patient that you’re on their side rather than arguing with them. Natasha explains why she can’t accept Bruce’s solution as it is and redirects him to other options. If possible, it is best to provide the patient with 2 or 3 of options. To ensure that you have resolved the issue to the patient’s satisfaction, ask the patient if they are satisfied or if they have any other concerns to talk about.

That brings us to the final step in the blast technique, Thanking the patient. Remember to thank the patient for taking the time to share their feedback and concerns with you. All feedback is an opportunity to reflect and identify how we can better serve the patients under our care

As a student, you should always inform your practice educator immediately about any complaints or concerns that are shared with you. This gives them a chance to step in and help you address the patient’s complaint and follow up with the patient.

In some situations, students may experience rudeness and criticism directed at them. If you ever feel unsafe or if you are losing control of the situation, it is okay to remove yourself and ask for help from your practice educator or another member of the team.

In summary, the BLAST technique can help you navigate through challenging patient interactions step by step. Through practice and over time, you will become more comfortable with handling these situations. The key is to stay calm and work alongside the patient to address their concerns.

I hope you found this video helpful.

Thanks for watching. I’m Dr. Tablet and I hope you have a fanTABulous practicum


We would like to thank Alyssa Low (Undergraduate Student) for helping to create this video and Garrett Tang (Undergraduate Student) for designing original images (e.g. Dr. Tablet).

Introduction to Experiential Education

This video introduces the concept of experiential education, the practicum courses offered by the E2P PharmD program, and the office of experiential education.

Video Timestamps:
o What is Experiential Education? 0:29
o Types of Experiential Education 0:54
o Practicum Courses 2:44
o The Office of Experiential Education (OEE) 5:38

Hello, my name is Dr. Tablet, but you can just call me Tab. In this video I’ll be providing a brief introduction to experiential education. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s begin.Back when I was a pharmacy student, I aspired to become a competent and caring pharmacist. I studied the classroom material diligently and worked at the local pharmacy on weekends. While watching the pharmacists work, it made me wonder: Will I be able to do all of that when I graduate? How do I develop and practice those skills?Experiential education is “a teaching philosophy in which educators engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge and skills, clarify values, and develop one’s capacity to contribute to their communities” (Association for Experiential Education). In the context of pharmacy school, think of it as the “bridge” that connects theoretical knowledge gained in the classroom to professional practice in the workplace. Let’s look at some examples.One type of experiential education is work-integrated learning, where learners tackle real tasks and solve real problems. Examples of this include outpatient and inpatient practicums. Unlike in a classroom environment, I was interacting with real patients. I got to apply my knowledge and skills and witness how my clinical decisions impacted my patients’ health and well-being. I also learned how to communicate and collaborate effectively with members of the team. Work-integrated learning helped me to become practice-ready.As some of you may already have pharmacy work experience, you might be wondering how practicum activities compare with pharmacy assistant duties? While there is overlap between the two, pharmacy assistants are involved in technical duties, such as ordering and filling prescriptions. They cannot provide medical advice or clinical services to patients. On the other hand, practicum activities are generally focused on learning about the pharmacist’s role and providing patient care which may include counselling patients, conducting medication reviews, and providing therapeutic recommendations. Activities are supervised by a practice educator or pharmacist and students engage in self-reflection and feedback.Another example of experiential education is community-engaged learning, which occurs when students partner with community organizations or community members to learn from their expertise. Often, these partner organizations run programs for historically, persistently, and systemically marginalized groups. My placement at a soup kitchen allowed me to see how people deal with barriers, and how difficult it is to overcome them. I saw and experienced their frustration, not at myself, but because they’re hungry and they feel helpless. It wasn’t until I talked to them that I began to understand their struggle. I was able to help them get through their toughest times.Now that we’ve discussed some types of experiential learning, let’s take a quick look at all the different practicum courses you’ll participate in!The Entry-to-Practice Doctor of Pharmacy program provides 42 weeks of hands-on experiential education to prepare students to fully take on their clinician role upon graduation.Starting with the Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences, which are also known as IPPEs – PHRM 171 will take place the summer of year one in an outpatient setting. Students are introduced to the pharmacy workflow and the role of the pharmacist. Over the course of 4 weeks, you’ll become familiar with the various distribution activities and provide direct patient care.In second year, you’ll be enrolled in 3 courses: PHRM 270, 271 and 272.

PHRM 270, community service learning is a course where students will learn about broader social issues, such as the social determinants of health in your community, and gain awareness of their civic responsibilities through serving others. It differs from volunteering and clinical placements in that it puts equal focus on service, as well as self-refection and learning. Throughout second year, you’ll be engaging in activities that benefit the community.

During the summer of second year, you’ll participate in two practicum courses.

PHRM 271 will be your second exposure to outpatient practice. During this 4 week-practicum, students will be expected to provide care to more complex patients and handle more tasks and increasingly difficult situations compared to first year.

PHRM 272 is a 2-week introduction to inpatient practice. Students will become familiar with various aspects of inpatient practice within the hospital setting and participate in both observation and direct patient care activities.

In the summer of 3rd year, you’ll once again practice in an outpatient pharmacy, your final IPPE. PHRM 371 is an 8-week course allowing students to consolidate their knowledge and skills from the past three years of their pharmacy education. The duration of this course is longer than previous years to allow students to have more opportunities to follow up with their patients. Students will be expected to provide care to a wide array of patients with increasing complexity.

The IPPEs from Years 1 to 3 expose students to direct patient care activities and provide them with a clear understanding of pharmacy practice. As you transition out of IPPEs and into your 4th year practicums, the Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences, there will be a shift in expectations. Students will be expected to apply, reinforce, and advance their knowledge and skills; and to provide competent care to patients with increasing complexity.

Throughout your 4th year, you will spend a total of 24 weeks in practice: 8 weeks at an outpatient setting for PHRM 471; 8 weeks at an inpatient setting for PHRM 472; and 8 weeks of selected experiences for PHRM 473. Examples of selected experiences may include outpatient settings such as travel medicine or compounding pharmacy; Inpatient settings such as critical care or antimicrobial stewardship; or Non-direct patient care settings such as academic teaching or drug and poison information. The practicum categories and opportunities available may vary from year to year.

So, who coordinates these experiences? The team at the Office of Experiential Education, also known as the OEE, are responsible for the academic and administrative leadership of experiential education. Their mission is to create meaningful learning opportunities for students to gain the knowledge, skills, and professional attributes needed to become exemplary pharmacists and leaders.

Let’s briefly go through the organization of this unit.

First up is the director who oversees the entire experiential education program and leads the team in determining and achieving various goals and initiatives within the four strategic imperatives, which are: (1) student experience, (2) practice educator experience, (3) experiential education sites and, (4) program advancement.

Next up is the administrative team, which includes the placement manager and senior program assistants. They coordinate practicum placements and schedules every year. They also liaise with various stakeholders such as UBC Health, UBC’s Safety & Risk Services, WorkSafeBC and our Health Authorities in setting up pre-practicum requirements that support your safety while on practicum. One example is your annual flu shot. The team can answer questions about scheduling and respond to general inquiries about experiential education.

Last but not least, we have the course who run the individual practicum courses. They are responsible for developing curricula, aligning with program and accreditation requirements, as well as ensuring that educational outcomes are achieved by the end of the program. In addition, they’re here to support your success and to discuss any aspect of your practicum. Whether it’s a question or concern or an experience you simply want to share, they are happy to connect with you.

Beyond the work of supporting students, the team as a whole is responsible for engaging with our external stakeholders. One example is onboarding, training, and providing continuing education to our practice educators. Formal processes are in place to ensure our sites and practice educators are prepared and well supported to host our learners. The team also facilitates the quality assurance of practice sites in order to meet accreditation and program requirements to ensure students have a robust and positive learning experience.

Through experiential learning, I was able to immediately apply knowledge from the didactic courses, receive timely feedback and coaching from practice educators and other team members, foster my lifelong learning attitude through regular practice of self-reflection, apply my knowledge and skills flexibly and creatively in different situations, and provide service to communities. As the scope of pharmacy practice is rapidly expanding, I want to encourage you to embrace the various opportunities that lie ahead of you. I’m grateful for experiential learning as it has informed my future practice and prepared me for my professional career.

Thanks for watching. I’m Dr. Tablet and I hope you have a fanTABulous practicum!

Acknowledgements:  We would like to thank Lucy Zhou and Alyssa Low (Undergraduate Students) for helping to create this video and Garrett Tang (Undergraduate Student) for designing original images (e.g. Dr. Tablet).