Top 5 Tips for Teaching ID Learners


The latest article from SIDP offers a Top 5 list of how to precept a learner on an infectious disease rotation.

Kayla Stover, PharmD, BCIDP, BCPS, FCCP, FIDSA, and Beth Cady, PharmD, BCPS, are both infectious disease specialists who round with their ID Consult teams (UMMC in Mississippi and HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Illinois, respectively). They have a combined 15 years of experience on faculty at schools of pharmacy and in their specialty area. Together, they have come up with a “Top 5” list of How to Effectively Precept a Learner on an ID Rotation.

  1. Teach (early on) the differences between working up a patient on ID vs other services: Learners who take ID rotations after having completed a medicine or critical care rotation often are unsure how to transition knowledge of patient work-ups from those services and apply it to patients seen by an ID team. For either ID consults or a stewardship rotation, the information needed likely will have a different focus than other disciplines or sub-specialties. Clarifying the expectations for patient work-ups early in the rotation can save the learner and the preceptor unnecessary time and frustration.
  2. Preceptors, let the learners do the talking: Preceptors, especially those who are newer in their career, tend to want to share the wealth of the information they’ve accumulated over the years. Instead, let the learners be the ones who do most of the talking. It’s ok to let them make mistakes, talk through challenges, or discover their own light bulb moments. Don’t be in a rush to jump to their rescue and give them the answers. Learners do best when doing, not listening.
  3. Make it fun: Just because we’re in a serious professional environment doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with learners. Getting learners to know bugs and drugs requires A LOT of rote memorization. We encourage playing games or performing activities like picking a favorite bug/drug/disease state. You could also consider having the learners peer teach, use social media to track, follow, or post progress, and/or devise new ways to remember the material. See example resources below.
  4. Basic drug knowledge can be boring, but it is essential: In our experience, many learners struggle with basic knowledge related to drugs commonly used in ID. Use techniques to get learners to remember drugs, mechanisms of action, adverse events, and/or essential monitoring parameters. Some suggestions might be a “top 5” list of essential AEs or monitoring parameters, pathophysiology delves to understand MOA, daily “quizzes” during pre-rounds, or a combination of strategies to increase knowledge and understanding.
  5. Strategically select topics to cover: Preceptors, what do your learners want to gain from your rotation? Where do they want to practice? Ask these questions and use the answers to determine what topics/discussions you should schedule during the month. (A learner who intends to work in the community likely needs/desires different preparation than a learner who intends to work in the intensive care unit.) You’ll both be happier if they care about the topics covered!

bench to bedside

Final note for you, the preceptor, before students begin: Be organized. With the amount of information shared during a rotation, it may be helpful to use a central repository for sharing pertinent resources (expectations, readings, links, schedules, example patient work-up forms, rubrics for presentations, etc.). This repository may be a shared folder (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox), a rotation-specific website, or other locations based on availability. [Note: it may be helpful to check with your practice site to see if they have rules on which repositories can be used or, minimally, have a discussion with learners about not posting HIPAA-protected PHI in HIPAA non-compliant locations.]

Helpful/Fun Resources for Reference:

    Quick summary of ID highlights for pharmacists
    Practice exams and cheat sheets
    Antibiotic trivia quizzes and games
    Generates tables of drugs of choice
  5.;; (among others)
    Can generate/build infographics (could be used for disease states, expectations, rotation requirements, etc.)

Beth Cady is a clinical assistant professor at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville School of Pharmacy and practices as an infectious diseases pharmacist at HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, IL. Dr. Cady’s interests include SOTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) research, especially as it relates to students in her ID courses, and she enjoys all things related to gram-negative resistance.

Kayla Stover is an associate professor at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and practices as an infectious diseases pharmacist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS. Dr. Stover’s interests include antifungal pharmacotherapy, antimicrobial stewardship, antimicrobial use in special populations, and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL).

The Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists (SIDP) is an association of pharmacists and other allied healthcare professionals who are committed to promoting the appropriate use of antimicrobial agents and supporting practice, teaching, and research in infectious diseases. We aim to advance infectious diseases pharmacy and lead antimicrobial stewardship in order to optimize the care of patients. To learn more about SIDP, visit

Related Videos
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.