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Pharmacy Residents, Faculty, and Preceptors Attend Teaching Excellence Day

The “one-day introduction to a career-long commitment” covers skills needed for effective presentations, teaching, and information sharing

By Becky Ceraul
July 15, 2011

Pharmacy residents, faculty, and preceptors had the opportunity to interact with more experienced instructors during the School of Pharmacy’s annual Teaching Excellence Day on July 14. Led by senior faculty Mary Lynn McPherson, PharmD, and Richard Dalby, PhD, the “students” were exposed to a full day of “how-tos” and “how not-tos” on creating and giving presentations, teaching one-on-one and in small groups, writing learning objectives and exam questions, and providing feedback to students.

The course, started more than 10 years ago, was designed to provide skills and a foundation for the attendees’ careers as teachers in the classroom, the lab, the clinic and any where else they might practice.

“The most important attributes of an effective teacher are passion for your topic, the teaching process, and for student learning,” says McPherson, a professor in the School’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. “It’s also vital to be spot-on knowledgeable in your field. This top of the line knowledge base, when coupled with real life ‘been there, done that’ experience, cannot be beaten – especially when delivered with zest and enthusiasm.”

This year, 132 people attended Teaching Excellence Day, many of them recent graduates from the School of Pharmacy who are now involved with the School’s residency and fellowship program or are working at sites throughout Baltimore.

Niki Mehdizadegan, PharmD, and Kelly Parsons, PharmD, are both May 2011 graduates of the School of Pharmacy and starting residencies at Union Memorial Hospital. “Today’s sessions on effective public speaking will help me with pharmacotherapy rounds and poster presentations on research,” Mehdizadegan says. “And tips on organization and time management are really appreciated.”

Parsons says that she’s interested in learning skills to help her make the switch from a student to a preceptor. “I now have the opportunity to precept students and I’m hoping to learn more about how to give and received feedback through evaluations.”

Theresa Ng, PharmD, is a 1993 graduate of the School of Pharmacy and a preceptor specializing in general medicine at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland. “Teaching Excellence Day helped me learn techniques for developing goals for my students’ rotations along with improving my communication skills.”

“Ongoing preceptor development is extremely important to ensure that we provide our residents, fellows and students with the best learning experiences possible,” says Kristin Watson, PharmD, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice and science and coordinator of the Residency and Fellowship Program who planned the day’s preceptor track. “This includes not only their rotation experiences but also working with them on pharmacy-related projects and helping them grow as professionals.”

For Dalby, associate dean of academic affairs and a professor in the School’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the day provides both practical information and motivation for improving upon presentation skills. “Much of the information we share isn’t covered in standard curriculum, and I think students and new faculty benefit from seeing enthusiastic instructors in front of a class,” he says. “I hope participants learn that teaching takes effort akin to providing clinical services or conducting research, and that the rewards are equally valuable if less tangible or immediately obvious.”

“I am passionate about teaching – what makes for effective learning, how to enhance learning, and how to get a feel for whether or not students ‘get it,’” adds McPherson. “Just being an expert in your field doesn’t mean you are necessarily an effective teacher. I want the residents, our faculty, and preceptors to catch the passion as well, and understand that how you teach is as, or more important, than what you teach.”

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