School of Pharmacy
Pharmacy Co-op Program Frequently Asked Questions
Pharmacy Co-op Program Information
The co-op program is a structured pharmacy internship program where students work in a paid per diem position full time (32-40 hours) for 4 months as a pharmacy intern. Our students have three 4-month co- op experiences, in the summer between their 2nd and 3rd year, the winter/spring of their 3rd year and the fall of their 4th year. A curriculum grid is on the website below.
The students are registered as a Pharmacy Intern in the state they are employed in per regulations, and they would need a preceptor to complete their documentation. All students are provided the Massachusetts forms and links to all other states.
Frequently asked questions:
Is co-op a paid experience?
Yes, in the majority of cases, students are providing a service to the employer full-time for 16 weeks, so they should be paid a nominal wage. The range is from $11 to $17+/hour, depending on the job and geographical location. A contract is not required since it is an employer/employee relationship. In some cases, a student may chose to volunteer 8-24 hours a week to learn about a particular setting if a paid position isn’t available. They should not be used to replace regular staff.
Who is responsible for paying payroll taxes?
Students are placed in an hourly rate position as either a per diem or seasonal employee, and the employer is responsible for all related payroll taxes. A student cannot be hired as an independent consultant and submit a 1099 form per IRS regulations. Please review the Co-op Employer Handbook for details of employment, located on the above website.
Do students receive benefits?
As a temporary employee, they do not receive benefits in most cases. All students are required to have health insurance from either their family or the University, and the University supplies Liability Insurance. If there is an issue involving liability, please contact the co-op faculty member who will work with University Counsel. Some retail companies provide employee discounts but that is done based on a company policy.
What evaluations are required by the school?
Northeastern University utilizes the co-op experience to meet the accreditation requirements for a community and institutional experience. Students are guided to complete an experience in each setting by the co-op faculty. At the end of the co-op experience, the preceptor/supervisor is asked to complete a short competency assessment form. There is one specific for community and one for institutional settings. There is also a performance evaluation which assesses a student’s workplace behaviors including being on time, working with others, etc. Depending on the state internship requirements, the pharmacist preceptor must complete the internship record of hours. Competency evaluations are on the above website under FORMS.
Can I ask a student to return for a second co-op?
As long as they meet the competency requirements of an institutional and community experience, the student may return. If a student wants to return for a second co-op, they must ask the supervisor if they are welcome to return, and the co-op faculty will verify the information and address any funding issues associated with the position with the appropriate people.
Do students get time off during co-op?
Students are considered full-time employees during their co-op and must follow the scheduling requirements of the site. That includes weekends, nights and holidays. Students do not get a vacation during a co-op period and are not eligible for university time off such as Spring break and Christmas break. Dates are posted on the website above and students know well ahead of time what they are. If a student needs time for anything, they must go through the supervisor as all other employees. If there are any issues, please contact the co-op faculty to intervene with the student.
Can students work part-time in between co-op and during a co-op period?
Many employers, especially the local sites, ask that students work part-time after their co-op to provide night and weekend coverage and maintain their skills. We tell students that working about 8-16 hours a week is manageable, but beyond 16 hours is not recommended when they are in classes full-time. If a student has a co-op position and wants to work part-time in addition, as long as the employer is not a direct competitor and both employers are aware of the situation, it is allowed. The full-time co-op position takes priority over the part-time position in scheduling.
What other resources are available for students while on co-op?
Students on co-op are considered full-time students and are eligible for counseling services, library access and other benefits of a student. If there are any issues that occur during a co-op experience, contact the co-op faculty and they will work with the appropriate University resource to address a particular concern.
If a student is stellar and I want to recommend them for recognition, how do I do it?
Northeastern University has a Cooperative Education Award program which recognizes outstanding co- op students throughout the university. The co-op faculty member nominates students based on feedback received from employers. Other avenues include state professional associations which recognize outstanding students, nominated by pharmacists at the site. Students have also been recognized in hospital newsletters and other media. We have some amazing students in the program.
Can a co-op student be terminated before the end of the work period?
Yes, as an employee, a student is subject to the policies and rules of the employer. If a situation occurs where continued employment is in question, we would like you to contact the co-op faculty to determine if there are any other issues ongoing outside of work and if the situation can be resolved. The employer has the ability to terminate a student at anytime.
Do students receive a grade for co-op?
Students receive a Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory on their transcript. As long as a student completes their co-op, completes the evaluations and learns from the experience, they receive a Satisfactory. If a student gets terminated or has issues during the co-op, they may receive an Unsatisfactory. The grade does get noted on their transcript. The co-op faculty has the final decision on the grade.
Can International Students work on a visa?
Yes, International students must receive authorization to work from the International Student and Scholar Institute (ISSI). The student will receive a form from the co-op faculty once they obtain a job offer and accept, and the form is presented to the ISSI counselor who will review their documentation and authorize the student to work during a set date time. International students cannot obtain a social security number until they have a co-op position, so for the first position, there is a short delay but they are directed by ISSI to obtain a social security number. If an international student wants to work part-time in a pharmacy, called a parallel co-op, they need the authorization form renewed. Pharmacy students are the only ones who can work part-time due to licensing/curricular requirements. A student is not allowed to work without ISSI authorization. The website is: http://www.northeastern.edu/issi/
For other questions, please feel free to contact:
Prof. Mark Yorra
Prof. Robert Blaser
Cooperative Education Office
203 Robinson Hall
Boston, MA 02115