School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Preceptors of the Year
Practicing pharmacists help train student pharmacists
PharmD students experienced their first rotation this past summer, stepping into community pharmacies to learn from the experts. Two preceptors stood out from the crowd and were honored as preceptors of the year by the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at its awards ceremony in August: Pam Krolczyk and Zeeshan Khalid.
Pam Krolczyk has worked for United Health Services for 30 years, and for the past seven she has been the supervising pharmacist for Wilson Place Pharmacy. She served as preceptor for two School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences students, Tahsin Imam and Brianna Flint, during their first rotation in community pharmacy during summer 2018.
Krolczyk, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, has worked with pharmacy students for brief periods of time in the past, but this was the first time as the primary preceptor for IPPE students.
“Because I’m the supervisor, I wear a lot of hats,” she said. “We covered transitions of care at the hospital, prescription filling from start to finish, patient counseling, drug-drug interactions, ‘Meds to Beds,’ and even touched on some supervisory issues. Basically, I tried to give them an overview of anything that goes on in a system-based community pharmacy.”
It’s not everyone who can be – or wants to be – a preceptor, but Krolczyk enjoys this role. “I wanted them to have a well-rounded experience in their chosen career,” she said. “It’s not just a job, it’s a profession. I hope I was able to show them some ways in which they can make a difference in their patients’ lives and go on to make a difference and be successful in their pharmacy careers.”
“I think they enjoyed the experience and I certainly enjoyed them,” Krolczyk said. “I think I learned as much from them as they learned from me.”
Zeeshan Khalid joined Wegmans as an intern in 2010, and is currently the pharmacy manager at the Johnson City store. He attended University at Buffalo to complete his prerequisites and went on to earn his PharmD at St. John Fisher College in 2013. Since then, he has worked with students from his alma mater and Binghamton University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, as well as with Wegmans interns.
“Our Wegmans Pharmacy Intern program is a three-year program that has learning modules pertaining to each professional year and I use them to help me guide my academic interns as well,” Khalid said. “They come in with different experiences from different schools, but I merge the counseling education and over-the-counter knowledge with whatever Binghamton’s requirements are.
Khalid keeps his own PharmD education in mind when he works as a preceptor. “What I see, having been through it myself, is that in community settings many people have the perception that pharmacists stay behind the counter and count,” he said. “But the role of a pharmacist has shifted to become more clinical with tasks such as vaccinations, medication therapy management and clinical interactions.”
His goal is to include as many direct patient care activities to this experience as possible.
“I start with counseling to understand the basics and then I have them shadow me and look at the pharmacy process before placing them at the counseling station,” he said. “That’s where they have patient interaction and use their knowledge. Patients bring questions regarding over-the-counter products or counseling may be required for the prescription they are picking up. Establishing this patient-pharmacist relationship is important when working in the community setting.
“As time goes on, I also have the students make some doctor calls to work on their communication skills,” he added.
Students have different comfort levels when counseling patients. “They might be nervous to talk to a stranger, so I try to focus on one or two acute medications such as an antibiotic and give them the counseling tips on them. Then they watch me counsel someone and I observe them counseling someone.”
“The biggest hurdle is feeling confident in talking to a patient. In class, students learn, study and practice ‘mock’ counseling sessions, but they’re not yet making an impact in someone’s life,” Khalid said. “But patients who come to a counseling station will take a particular drug because of our counseling. Often, patients present with a disease state for which we have to ask probing questions in order to provide an appropriate treatment plan. So, for students to take that first leap, even though they know the information, requires the confidence to use it. It’s hard to utilize what you learn in school until you actually do the job.”
Khalid, who commutes to work from Ithaca, loves what he does and sees that in PharmD students as well, whether at a counseling station or communicating with prescribers over the phone. “Pharmacy students love interacting with patients and other healthcare practitioners. I think that interactions they have with our patients and/or over the phone with a doctor or doctor’s office, who may ask for a recommendation, definitely makes an impact.”