Objective: To determine the impact of an introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) on students' clinical skills during their initial advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE).
Design: A 4-week First Steps course that focused on students developing pharmacy practice skills, clinical communications skills, and effective use of reference materials was introduced in 2006 at the end of the third-year curriculum, prior to students beginning their APPEs.
Assessment: During the third week of the first APPE, faculty members rated students' demonstration of 9 clinical skills on a 5-point Likert scale (1 being always and 5 being never). The evaluation was performed in 2005 prior to implementation of the course (control group) and again in 2006 after implementation of the course. Students who completed the First Steps course scored better on all 9 skills and had a better average clinical skills value (2.3) compared to the control group (2.6, p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Completion of an IPPE course that focused on critical pharmacy practice aspects, clinical communication skills, and use of reference materials resulted in increased frequency of desired clinical behaviors on a subsequent APPE.
Keywords: advanced pharmacy practice experience; assessment; evaluation; experiential learning; introductory pharmacy practice experience.