Pharmacy Student Rotation Opportunities

College of Pharmacy, Downers Grove Campus

In This Section

Experiential education courses, commonly referred to as “rotations,” comprise roughly one-third of your pharmacy education. At CPDG, you will have an abundance of unique rotation opportunities available to you, as you explore which area of pharmacy practice you’d like to pursue in your career.

We have been coordinating experiential education for our pharmacy students for 30 years, so we have a depth of partnerships with premier medical centers in the Chicago area for the benefit of your pharmacy education. Key partnerships include:

  • Rush University Medical Center
  • University of Chicago Medical Center
  • Northwestern Memorial Hospital
  • Loyola University Medical Center
  • Advocate Aurora Healthcare Centers
  • AMITA Hospitals and Clinics
  • Edward-Elmhurst Health
  • … and many more, as shown in this map

We offer a wide range of locations for student rotations. This map shows the local hospitals and large clinics where our students may be assigned for various IPPE Institutional, as well as General Medicine APPE, Hospital APPE, most Clinical Elective APPE, and some Ambulatory Care APPE rotations. If you have a regional preference, our Office of Experiential Education will attempt to accommodate your request, subject to other requests received. It's important to note that this map does not include community pharmacy rotation sites and is a snapshot in time: new hospital and clinic sites may be added or current ones shown may not be utilized for a given rotation block.

Experiential Education allows you to:

Apply knowledge learned in the classroom, labs, and workshops.
Learn under the guidance of a pharmacist (preceptor) who shares knowledge and experiences with you.
Work with pharmacists that have unique backgrounds and professional experiences.
See a variety of practice settings.
Work with a variety of patient populations.
Work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals.

Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPEs)

You will begin two introductory rotation courses in the summer after your first full year in our pharmacy curriculum. Each IPPE rotation is four weeks long, and attendance at your assigned site is full time (8 hours per day, Monday through Friday). There is no other coursework during this time.

During this 12-week summer in the curriculum, there are a total of three rotation blocks that are four weeks each. Your assigned IPPE rotations will take place during two of the blocks: one for IPPE Community and one for IPPE Institutional (in either order). Therefore, you will enjoy a four-week break from all coursework during one of the three IPPE rotation blocks.

You will need to be sure you have your State of Illinois Student Pharmacist Technician License. Details provided upon program acceptance.

IPPE Community:
Local community pharmacies, such as Walgreens, CVS, Osco, Mariano’s, Meijer, etc.

IPPE Institutional:
Local hospitals/health systems throughout the Chicago metro area

To maximize your experiences, we will place you at a community pharmacy or institution that is new to you. This will help round out your education, as well as offer new networking opportunities.

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs)

Beginning in your final year, these rotation courses will be taken one at a time, in successive blocks of six-week time periods.

Four Core APPE Rotations:

Community APPE – This is the advanced experience that builds upon your Community IPPE. This practice experience will enable you to develop your skills and gain experience in a variety of patient-oriented services in community practice. In addition to medication dispensing, you will focus on drug therapy assessment and intervention, identification, resolution, and prevention of drug-related problems, education, and communication with patients and other healthcare professionals. You may participate in additional services such as administration of immunizations, blood pressure screenings, and medication therapy and disease state management.

Hospital APPE – This is an advanced experience that builds upon Institutional IPPE. This practice experience will enable you to develop your skills and gain experience in hospital practice or other system of integrated pharmacy services. Emphasis is placed on systems to promote safe and effective medication use to optimize patient outcomes. In addition to medication order processing, preparation, and distribution, you will focus on drug-use decision-making processes, individual patient drug therapy monitoring, formulary management, and communication with patients and other healthcare professionals.

Ambulatory Care APPE – This practice experience will enable you to develop your skills and gain experience related to ambulatory care practice. You will participate in drug therapy assessment and intervention, identify drug related problems, develop therapeutic care plans, and effectively communicate with patients and other healthcare professionals to achieve optimal drug therapy outcomes. You will work with patients in clinics and community pharmacies focusing on disease states such as diabetes, hypertension, HIV, cancer, anticoagulation, and lipids.

General Medicine APPE – This practice experience will enable you to develop your skills and gain experience related to general medicine in an acute care setting. Emphasis is placed on participating in an interprofessional healthcare team, drug therapy assessment, patient care activities, and monitoring of outcomes in various patient populations. In addition, you will participate in drug therapy interventions, identify drug related problems, develop therapeutic care plans, and effectively communicate with patients and other healthcare professionals.

Two Elective Rotations:

Clinical Specialty APPE – Shadow and support a clinical pharmacist who specializes in a specific disease state, such as oncology, cardiology, critical care, or pediatrics. You could also gain experiences in a long-term care environment, home health care, or drug information that supports these clinical areas.

Elective APPE – Elective rotations are most often non-patient-care-oriented, such as management, compounding, pharmaceutical industry, academia, managed care, pharmacy benefits management (PBM), or tele-pharmacy. If additional clinical specialty experience is desired instead of an elective opportunity, this may be accommodated, subject to availability.

Crafting Your APPE Experiences

Because there are numerous career paths for practicing pharmacists, our various opportunities for unique rotation sites will allow you to explore directions that may be of interest to you. Our staff will work with you to help accommodate your preferences for rotations in specific Chicago-area regions, in urban, suburban, and rural settings, as well as specific clinical sites that interest you most.

Making your APPE rotation choices begins with a two-hour classroom session that discusses the lottery process, provides details on each of the six APPE rotation courses, and offers guidance on selecting sites and preceptors. In addition, 30-minute one-on-one meetings are available for you to review your options with a member of the Office of Experiential Education (OEE) professional staff.

Although the final assignment of APPE rotations is based on a lottery system, roughly 85% of our students receive their top choices in all six rotation blocks. With each of the six rotation types noted above, you will designate your top four choices in rotation site and/or preceptor for that type of APPE rotation. In addition, we offer the following options:

Out-of-state rotations (detailed below) – You may do a combination of local and out-of-state/distant rotations. For your convenience, these will be most often in adjacent rotation blocks, so that you can plan your living arrangements accordingly and minimize your relocation time.

Sequential rotations – These are back-to-back rotations at the same clinical site, but different preceptors for each type of APPE rotation. For instance, your Hospital APPE and General Medicine APPE rotations could be at the same location. Sequential rotations are available at only select Chicago area medical centers. These rotations allow you to spend less time in orientations and learning computer systems, and more time becoming part of the healthcare team, particularly in the second block at the select site. They also allow you to build relationships with pharmacy staff, which could help in the eventual job search process. Separate application is required.

Academic rotations – This Elective campus-based APPE option offers you the opportunity to learn about teaching the next generation of pharmacists. Whether you plan to become a preceptor in the future, or occasionally teach classrooms of pharmacy students, or just wish to work closely with our faculty, this rotation will allow you to understand the teaching environment. Separate application is required.

Community Pharmacy Management – If you work for a community pharmacy, you may do an Elective APPE with your store’s district manager or a rotation at the corporate office.

Indian Health Service (IHS) rotations – Currently available in New Mexico and Montana, this Ambulatory Care APPE option allows you to learn about providing patient-centered care to people in Native American cultures. Separate application is required.

Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) rotations – These are highly competitive opportunities for an Elective APPE. Separate application is required. You may apply to only one of these.

Pharmaceutical Industry rotations – This Elective APPE is currently available at Sanofi (Chicago North), Abbvie (north Chicago suburbs), and Eli Lilly (in Indianapolis, IN). Limited seats available. Separate application is required, along with an in-person interview.

International rotations – These global opportunities are currently available in Belize and the United Arab Emirates (Dubai). This Elective APPE rotation is competitive and requires a separate application, along with an in-person interview.

Cook County Department of Corrections - This APPE rotation is actually popular with students. It provides a unique opportunity to work with patients who require acute care in the on-site hospital and help manage patients with chronic illnesses. Pharmacy students on this rotation play a key role in patient dosing and monitoring services, patient education, anticoagulation clinic, diabetic clinic, and methadone treatment clinic.


All students are required to have a State of Illinois Pharmacy Technician License with the designation of “Student Pharmacist” by the end of the first quarter of enrollment. Instructions for this license application will be provided. This registration must be maintained for the entire enrollment period.

Out-of-State Rotations

Distant Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPEs) are defined as six-week APPE rotations that are at practice sites outside the greater Chicago area. The greater Chicago area is defined as sites within Chicago and the surrounding counties of Cook, Will, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Kendall, and Grundy.

Students in good academic and disciplinary standing, as determined by the College, may participate in distant APPEs. Distant APPEs are subject to final approval on an individual basis by the Director of the Office of Experiential Education (OEE). You may apply to be considered for placement on distant APPEs during your second year. Students must attend all mandatory distant APPE meetings and adhere to all assignment deadline dates. All requests will be considered, but placement priority will occur in the following order:

  1. Students requesting distant APPEs in the same city as their permanent (family) address within the United States.
  2. Students requesting distant APPEs administered by the United States Public Health Services (e.g. Indian Health Services, FDA, CDC, etc.)
  3. Students requesting distant APPEs in cities within the United States where relatives will provide housing for the student.
  4. Students requesting distant APPEs in a state they may be moving to after graduation.

All distant APPE sites and preceptors must be approved by OEE, and the standard University affiliation agreement must be completed prior to the student beginning the rotation. There is no guarantee that requested distant APPEs will be approved and scheduled. Schedule changes resulting from preceptor changes may result in a denied distant APPE request. Students doing distant APPEs are also responsible for contacting the Board of Pharmacy in the state where they are placed to determine the licensure requirement(s) for students on rotation in that state. The student must comply with the requirements for that state and provide proof of compliance to OEE. All travel and living expenses are the student's responsibility.



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