School of Pharmacy’s Beardsley Wins National Education Award

American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy recognizes educator’s broad, positive impact on the profession.

By Steve Berberich
March 25, 2011

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has selected innovative, “top-notch educator” and mentor Robert Beardsley, RPh, PhD, MS, to receive the group’s prestigious 2011 Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award.

Beardsley is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in its Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR), where he is also vice chair of education. He instructs and is a course manager in the social behavioral aspects of pharmacy, with topics ranging from medication safety in health care to patient counseling to care of the terminally ill.

“One of the most important messages is to teach students ideas that will be applicable in their possible practices in the real world,” says Beardsley. “Our faculty always tries to give students what they can use for patient care. I also try to keep in mind that this is difficult for students. There is so much more they have to know.”

AACP, a national organization with nearly 6,200 faculty and more than 60,000 student members, presents its top educator award each year to someone of national stature who has had a broad positive impact on the pharmacy profession. Candidates are evaluated on their research and scholarly work, curriculum development, public service and outreach, as well as excellence in instruction.

“Dr. Beardsley is a serious educator who clearly considers his students and their needs when planning his classes,” says Natalie D. Eddington, PhD, FAAPS, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “When teaching pharmacy students, his courses are centered on producing better pharmacists and also on enhancing personal development. Bob helps his graduate students understand the application of theories coming from the social sciences and health literature. He challenges his students to apply what they are learning to patient-centered practice. It is easy to understand why even his elective classes are regularly quite full, and why so many students want him to serve as their advisor and mentor. I am proud that Bob is receiving this award.”

Beardsley received the Outstanding Teaching Award for the School of Pharmacy on three different occasions, as well as the Recognition Award from both the Student Government Association and the Class of 2005.

His passion for excellence transcends the classroom as he develops innovative curriculum and organizes strategic planning and training retreats for pharmacy instructors. He took active parts in two revisions of the School’s PharmD curriculum, and was selected by AACP as one of four authors to write the White Paper on Student Professionalism and to chair the joint APhA ASP-AACP Task Force on Professionalism that revised the Oath of the Pharmacist and created the Pledge of Professionalism. Under his leadership, the Task Force addressed the importance of professionalism in the development of future pharmacists and outlined in detail numerous strategies to facilitate the development of professionalism among students and to promote and recognize professional behavior among students, preceptors and faculty. He also served as Chair of AACP’s Council of Deans in 2003-4.

“Dr. Beardsley is a colleague, mentor and role model,” says Ilene Zuckerman, PharmD, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR. “He has a mild-mannered style that invites collaboration and problem solving. He puts the needs of students and the quality of the educational experience first. We are privileged to have Dr. Beardsley as a member of our faculty.”

Fifth-year PhD student Jingjing Qian says, “His health behavior class was the best organized [class], because each lecture was so clear in what’s expected of the students to learn. Dr. Beardsley is always a gentleman, and when he teaches he is so precise and very patient with each student about our questions, comments, and thoughts.”

Beardsley was the first person graduate student Mohammad Al-Jawadi met at the School. Al-Jawadi, from Saudi Arabia, says, “Although he was an associate dean at the time and despite all his responsibilities, he hosted me and took me on a tour. Just imagine yourself coming from overseas and an associate dean himself is taking you on a tour around campus. Dr. Beardsley is a brilliant listener and among the best in terms of clear thinking. His most influential advice to me was ‘When you choose your career, make sure that you choose what you like and you will never need to work again’.”

Former student Anthony Wutoh, PhD, RPh, now associate dean at Howard University School of Pharmacy, says mentoring was just part of Beardsley’s influence on his career. “I was equally influenced in my career decisions by observing the balance that he showed in his life as a husband, father, and friend.”

A previous recipient of the Chalmers’ Award, Nicholas Popovich, PhD, a professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago calls Beardsley “the consummate educator and scholar.”

Working with students seems to run in the family since his wife, Kathy, is an associate dean at the University of Maryland, College Park, and their son Kyle is on faculty at Emory University.

Beardsley says he has stayed active in professional groups since his days as a pharmacy undergraduate student at Oregon State University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy in 1972.

“I am active because it helps me keep up with trends in the practice that I can then bring to the classroom,” he says.

Beardsley’s career features a host of honors, including being recognized by the Maryland Pharmacists Association as both Mentor of the Year and Honorary President.

He earned a Master of Science in Hospital Pharmacy Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacy Administration from the University of Minnesota. He joined the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1977 as an assistant professor and became a professor in 1994. He has also served the School as assistant and associate dean for student affairs and for administration.

Beardsley says he is very humbled by the award. “I was humbled just to be nominated. Just to be nominated by your peers for something you love to do — it doesn’t get any better than that.”