Evaluating the Online Networking Relationships between Preceptors and Pharmacy Students

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To describe pharmacy preceptors' use of Facebook and compare the perspectives of those with and without Facebook profiles regarding student–preceptor relationships.


A survey was sent electronically to pharmacy practice preceptors (n = 2523) at four colleges of pharmacy asking them to provide their opinions on the student–preceptor Facebook relationship. If respondents answered “yes” to having a Facebook profile, they were asked 12 questions. If respondents answered “no”, they were asked two questions. Demographic data were collected from all the respondents. Two reminder emails were sent before the survey closed after 24 days.


Of the 612 total respondents (response rate = 24.3%), 413 preceptors (67%) currently maintain a Facebook page, while 199 (33%) do not. The majority of those with a Facebook profile (93%) use it for social networking, 27% use it for professional networking or campaigning, and 6% use it to collaborate with colleagues. Fifty-four percent of the preceptors with a Facebook profile are not friends with students on Facebook, while 46% are, although 10% of responders do limit what the student can view on their profile. Responses were highly varied when asked how they would handle a “friend request,” including accept it right away, after some thought, or simply decline it.


As the use of these social media sites increases, the need arises for preceptors to discuss and/or clearly define the appropriateness of social networking relationships without compromising the line between the personal and professional relationships with pharmacy students.

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