Preceptor Spotlight of the Month


Spotlight of the Month

Experiential Education spotlights preceptors who go above and beyond the call of duty in taking the time to mentor our students who are out on their practice rotations. The “Preceptor Spotlight” is a new column that appears in our monthly newsletters.


April 2017 Preceptor of the Month

Sherry Barnes

Ms. Sherry Barnes, pharmacist in charge at East Texas Medical Center Behavioral Health Center - Tyler (From left: Alex Maldonado III (P1), Sherry Barnes, RPh, Enelize Perez (P1) and Lindsey Bell (P1). Photo taken during “Prescription for Fun Event,” Oct. 2016.)

Beginning the fall of 2016, Ms. Sherry Barnes started taking first-year pharmacy students at the ETMC Behavioral Health Center. The students were extremely happy to have a site close to the university, though behavioral health was something new to them. Unlike most hospitals, the behavior health center provides care for patients with a variety of mental health issues. Their services include inpatient stabilization, outpatient day treatment and programs for those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse.

The inpatient program works with both children and adults, while the outpatient program provides group therapy, workshops, and a ropes course to teach individuals how to build trust and learn teamwork. Since the behavioral health center is open 24 hours, they have an onsite inpatient pharmacy to make sure that all the patients receive their proper medications.

When the students arrived for their rotation, Ms. Barnes gave them a thorough tour of the facility. Additionally, she allowed the students to meet members of the healthcare team, including the psychiatrists, nurses and therapists. Ms. Barnes was very proactive in her approach to precepting her students and provided them with a lot of material and information to succeed. Here are just a few unique ways that she worked with her students:

  • Extra Information: Ms. Barnes provided her students with extra information and handouts on their weekly subject material. She planned her activities in advanced by reviewing the weekly workbook activities so that her students would never leave the practice site without fully understanding a concept
  • Respiratory Therapist: Since the behavioral health center does not have a respiratory therapist on staff, Ms. Barnes coordinated with the ETMC hospital to allow her students to conduct a phone interview with one. Before the interview, she provided her students with information detailing the role of a respiratory therapist so that they would be able to ask that individual informed questions.   
  • IV Admixtures: Ms. Barnes also worked with the ETMC hospital pharmacy so that the students could learn how to prepare admixtures, which is one of their required weekly activities. Students traveled to the main hospital and completed their activities on site in the pharmacy.
  • Immunization Certification: Just prior to taking her first students, Ms. Barnes completed her immunization certification. Even though institutional preceptors do not typically administer immunizations, Ms. Barnes wanted to prepare herself so that she could oversee students administering vaccinations in the near future.

 On behalf of the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy and the Office of Experiential Education, we would like to thank Ms. Barnes for her dedication to the development of future pharmacists. Her motivation and enthusiasm for patient care has been an inspiration to our students. In the words of first-year student, Alex Maldonado III, “Because of my military background, I have certain expectations for people who are in the position to lead others, in this case a preceptor. She did an absolute amazing job and just about blew those expectations out of the water.”    


March 2017 Preceptor of the Month

Shawn Sams

Dr. Shawn Sams, co-owner and staff pharmacist at Louis Morgan Drug # - Longview

Louis Morgan Drug #4 is a high volume pharmacy, and when Dr. Shawn Sams is not working directly with his patients, you can find him out on the floor stocking items or pushing boxes on a dolly. Despite all of his operational duties, Dr. Sams is very involved with each of his pharmacy students. His store typically accommodates four pharmacy students each session, and he and his co-pharmacist, Susan Roerecke, work together to make sure each student gets a consistent opportunity to explore everything his site has to offer. He offers them many interactive and hands-on activities, and the Office for Experiential Education would like to share some of them with you:

  • New Drug Information

As a special activity, Dr. Sams has each one of his students select a random drug from the pharmacy. He then has them role-play on how they would counsel a patient with their selected drugs. Afterwards, Dr. Sams discusses the drugs in depth, and then models the correct ways he would counsel a patient on each drug.    

  • The Compounding Lab

One of the most exciting aspects of Louis Morgan Drug #4 is the compounding lab. Dr. Sams gives each of his students a tour of the lab, and the compounding technician demonstrates lab preparation. The students then have the opportunity to perform their own lab preparations.

  • Final Presentation

As a final activity at the end of each session, Dr. Sams has his students complete a 15-minute PowerPoint presentation on a drug that has been on the market for less than six months. During the presentation, students discuss the drug’s indication(s), mechanism of action, contraindications and side effects. Students enjoy the opportunity to showcase their knowledge at the practice setting and learn information on new drugs.

Dr. Sams encourages the students to be inquisitive and creative, while also inspiring them to be lifelong learners. His goal is to make sure every student leaves his site having learned new areas of community pharmacy practice. The Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy and Office of Experiential Education would like to thank Dr. Sams for being an outstanding adjoint founding faculty member and preceptor.


February 2017 Preceptor of the Month

Bill Friday

Mr. Bill Friday, staff pharmacist at East Texas Medical Center - Tyler

Mr. Bill Friday has taken students every rotation session since the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy first began sending students to practice sites in fall 2015. He is also one of the first to volunteer to work with our students. He has been described as “a wonderful example of a staff pharmacist,” explaining clinical concepts in a way that is helpful and informative. He teaches his students valuable clinical skills while providing a balance between positive and constructive feedback. Second-year student Tiffany Hilliard said, “My preceptor was amazing, and everyone at the hospital was very friendly and eager to help us learn. I really loved this rotation, and I learned so much from my experience.”

In addition to his teaching style, Mr. Friday works hard at providing as much hands-on experience as possible during the student’s clinical rotation at ETMC. He makes sure the students are up-to-date on the latest treatment guidelines, while also demonstrating the importance of pharmacy and how it impacts other healthcare professions. Second-year student Steven Pham added to that by stating, “Mr. Friday gave me a wide variety of experiences and interactions during my rotation. He was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and has a lot of expertise in his field.”   

Though there are many more comments that can be shared about this preceptor, it is clear Mr. Friday takes a genuine interest in his students while providing them sound clinical knowledge. He is a hands-on teacher who is very passionate about pharmacy practice, and that passion has been a consistent attribute that our students have witnessed. The Office of Experiential Education would like to thank Mr. Friday for all of his hard work and dedication with our pharmacy students!


January 2017 Preceptor of the Month

Tina CollinsDr. Tina Collins, staff pharmacist at Longview Regional Medical Center - Longview

Dr. Tina Collins is one of two preceptors currently taking students at Longview Regional Medical Center, a 230-bed facility located on North 4th Street in Longview, Texas. Dr. Collins is the hospital pharmacy’s NICU leader, and she has extensive experience working with pediatric and NICU patients. She has over 10 years of clinical experience, including working as the Patient Safety Office for Good Shepherd Medical Center. Dr. Collins has taken both P1 and P2 pharmacy students from the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy, and she has displayed a unique energy and enthusiasm for her role as preceptor.

Throughout her time as preceptor, Dr. Collins has been consistently reliable. When it comes to taking students, she has always exceeded the college’s expectations. This includes making arrangements with her pharmacy director to set aside one day each week to devote time solely to the interns. She stated, “I believe that respecting students for their individual strengths is imperative. Each individual has something special to contribute, and that diversity is what makes a team function at its best.”

The student interns have also enjoyed working with Dr. Collins and have had several kind words to share about their rotation with her and the staff at Longview Regional Medical Center. The Office of Experiential Education would like to share just some of those comments with you:

  • “Dr. Collins is passionate about teaching students about all the aspects and roles of being a hospital pharmacist. She also challenges students so that they can better recognize medications and dosages.”
  •  “Dr. Collins was well-organized, intelligent, open-minded, encouraging, polite and professional. She always found time to teach us. She was a great teacher, and has a lot to offer students looking to learn.”
  •  “It seems as if she's been doing this for years with students. She was well-prepared every time we came to the site, and struck a nice balance between required work from the college and learning opportunities presented at the site.”

The Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy and Office of Experiential Education would like to express its gratitude for all of the hard work Dr. Tina Collins has put forth, and has continued to put forth, in the education of its student interns. She has proven to be an asset to college, and we are proud to have her on our preceptor team!


December 2016 Preceptor of the Month

Ray HaleyMr. Ray Haley, Jr., pharmacist in charge at PharmScript of Texas North - Tyler

Mr. Ray Haley is one of three preceptors at PharmScript of Texas North working with second year students from the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy. This practice experience is part of the students’ “Senior Care” rotation, which includes 3-weeks in a long-term care pharmacy, and 3-weeks assigned to a patient at Briarcliff Health Center in Tyler. Students have enjoyed the change of pace, along with the direct patient interaction in the nursing home.

PharmScript of Texas North is a long-term care (LTC) pharmacy located on the corner of Loop 323 and Commerce Street in Tyler. This pharmacy provides prescription medications, deliveries and consultative services to various long-term care homes within the region. Since they do not provide over-the-counter services that are typical in a community pharmacy setting, PharmScript of Texas North is a “closed door” facility. It is a place that you have probably driven past several times without even knowing the pharmacy’s location. PharmScript of Texas North is part of the PharmScript network, which services areas in 7 states including Washington, D.C., and is headquartered in New Jersey.

The students who worked alongside Mr. Haley have had many positive things to say about his enthusiasm as well as the time he takes to explain the different patient profiles and medication orders at the site. The Office of Experiential Education would like to share some of the comments with you that came directly from the students:

  • “My preceptor [Mr. Haley] was a great teacher! He took the time to explain everything to me that I didn't understand, and made sure I had a good understanding of everything we did. It was a wonderful site. It has everything needed to show me what a long-term care pharmacy was like; great staff, supplies, and workstations.”

  • “My preceptor goes out of his way to ensure you understand not only the topics in class, but how they apply to his career as a practicing pharmacist. I hope to be able to go back in the future; the site offers a little of everything.”
  •  “Mr. Haley was precise when sharing his knowledge about the workflow of the job and site. He emphasized how important is it to communicate patiently and clearly to nurses over the phone and stick to a double check routine when looking at patient profiles and medication orders. He challenged us to answer questions throughout his teachings to keep us engaged, and was polite when correcting us when we were wrong.”

The Office of Experiential Education is grateful for Mr. Ray Haley’s commitment to our students and to pharmacy practice. Mr. Haley’s thorough teaching style is evident in all of the feedback we have received from his students. We would like to give Mr. Haley a special “thank you” for all his time and dedication.


November 2016 Preceptor of the Month

Duanne Epps

Mr. Duane Epps, pharmacy manager at Texas Oncology - Tyler

Mr. Epps has been in pharmacy practice for over 30 years, and he is an exceptional preceptor with a passion for teaching his student interns. Texas Oncology – Tyler plays a specialized role in pharmacy practice, and it is one of the IPPE institutional practice sites for the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy. Texas Oncology – Tyler is different than most institutional sites in that it only serves a specific patient group. The pharmacy itself is very small, with a window facing the chemotherapy beds, and a retail window on the opposite end where patients can pick up their prescriptions.

In addition to precepting his students, Mr. Epps has many duties as the pharmacy manager at this site. This ranges from preparing the necessary chemotherapy drugs for patients to helping them check out at the retail window. Mr. Epps explained that his pharmacy stores many types of prescription drugs so that patients can fill them while they’re there. This allows his patients to pick up all of their medications at one location without having to travel to a separate pharmacy.

Students have really enjoyed working with Mr. Epps, because they get to observe a side of pharmacy practice that they don’t normally get to see. For many of our students, seeing the triumphs and the hardships in the arena of cancer treatment has really changed their lives. A light comes on for them when they begin to learn that pharmacy is just as much about impacting lives as with any other healthcare profession. Mr. Epps has really helped our students make this connection, and they have all come away with outstanding experiences to share.

The students have been very vocal about their rotation with Mr. Epps and the time he takes to really explain what he does. He works closely with the students as they navigate through their instructional material, and he shows a genuine interest in all of them, including the staff and faculty that he interacts with at the college. We want to thank Mr. Epps for his time and service as a preceptor for the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy. He has done an outstanding job!


October 2016 Preceptor of the Month

Nic Garner

Dr. Nic Garner, pharmacy manager at CVS here in Tyler. Dr. Garner has been in pharmacy practice for nearly five years.

As a preceptor, Dr. Garner manages the CVS pharmacy at the corner of one of Tyler’s busiest intersections. In addition to managing the workflow in an already fast-paced environment, Dr. Garner works with several pharmacy students from the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy on a weekly basis. This includes a few pharmacy students who are employed with him outside of school in the evenings and on weekends.

Dr. Garner has expressed a growing enthusiasm for the college’s students, and has expressed an earnest desire to devote his time to expanding their education in pharmacy practice. Whether in the mornings, afternoons or evenings, being a preceptor has really become a large part of what Dr. Garner does. He said, “I love working with them in the evenings, because it’s slower and I can show them a lot more.”

Dr. Garner has also taken an active role in the College of Pharmacy. He serves on the Experiential Education Advisory Committee and has also volunteered in the pharmacy admissions and interview process. When it came to taking students for the next round of rotations this month, Dr. Garner’s response was simply, “I’d be happy to host as many as you need.”  

When meeting Dr. Garner, his love for teaching and his passion for pharmacy practice shows. He has become a valuable member of our precepting team, and he has made a positive impression on the staff, faculty and students at the College of Pharmacy. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Dr. Nic Garner for working so hard for his students and showing a real commitment towards his profession. 


May 2016 Preceptor of the Month

Strong Hurt

Cliff Hurt, Jr. (left) and Tommy J. Strong (right). Photo courtesy of the Henderson Daily News, August 2015.

This month we would like to recognize both Tommy Strong and Clifton Hurt, co-owners of Strong-Hurt Pharmacy in Henderson, Texas.

Tommy Strong and Cliff Hurt are longtime friends who decided to go into business together back in 1996, opening Strong-Hurt Pharmacy in Henderson, Texas. Located in the small, historic, storefront shopping center in downtown Henderson, the building they are in has been a pharmacy since 1901, though it has changed ownership throughout the years. Currently, Strong-Hurt Pharmacy stands as the only independently owned pharmacy in Henderson, and they have built a strong rapport with the people in their community. The store has a rustic and welcoming feel to it, and the pharmacists warmly greet customers as they enter.

The feedback we have received from our first-year pharmacy students assigned to Strong-Hurt Pharmacy has been remarkable, so we are proud to recognize both preceptors for their outstanding contribution and dedication. Tommy and Cliff have worked very hard to create a relaxing learning environment, graciously taking two students every session this past year. From providing breakfast and coffee in the back for their students when they arrive, to showing them how to make blister packs and compounding creams, the students always experienced something new when they were on site. As one student described it, “I had the best time at my rotations there each week.”

In one particular instance, Tommy and Cliff lined up their entire staff in the back and allowed the students to test their blood glucose levels with the glucometer. This hands-on approach was popular with the students as it allowed them to observe the differences of blood glucose levels in varying individuals. During the fall, Cliff’s wife, who is a nurse, came in and set up a flu shot clinic for the local community. This allowed their students to get ample practice with giving immunizations.

First-year student Ethan Calderon was placed at Strong-Hurt during for his first practice experience, and he had some glowing remarks that he wanted to share about his time there. He said:

“The staff was extremely friendly and I felt like a member of their family on the first day. I learned from each member of the Strong-Hurt team, including the most effective counting methods when filling prescriptions, and I was able to observe in the compounding lab. I always felt involved. I rotated between both preceptors, and they were efficient and kept the learning consistent. I was never pushed to the side, and they always allowed me to work with them instead of as their shadow.”

We want to thank Cliff Hurt, Tommy Strong and the entire staff of Strong-Hurt Pharmacy for the tremendous effort they put forth with our students this year. Their commitment and devotion to our students has exceeded expectations, and we are pleased to have them as preceptors for the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy!


April 2016 Preceptor of the Month


Stephanie Thurman (left) and her partner pharmacist Melanie Baird (right)

This month we would like to recognize Stephanie Thurman, owner of Thurman’s Pro-Med Pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant, TX.

In 2006, Stephanie Thurman started working as the pharmacy manager of a locally owned pharmacy in Mt. Pleasant, Texas, which is about an hour and a half north of the UT Tyler campus. When the owners of that pharmacy decided to sell their store back in 2012, Stephanie and her husband felt it was the right time to open up a pharmacy of their own. Their goal was to create an environment where customer service and patient care was at the forefront. As a result, Thurman’s Pro-Med officially opened its doors in November 2013, and they have been faithfully serving their local community since.

Stephanie has been working with our first-year pharmacy students since rotations began last October, often taking on two students per session. She graciously opens her store 30 minutes early so that her students can leave in enough time to commute back to campus. Her store is also unique in that she allows her staff to wear customized T-shirts branded with the “Thurman’s Pro-Med” name. When the students arrive with their lab coats, they are immediately welcomed into the Thurman’s Pro-Med family with their own t-shirt. That simple gesture speaks volumes to our students who do not necessarily know what to expect when they are out at a new site for the first time.

Meri Tesfay, a first-year student with the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy, was impressed with how well Stephanie interacted with her patients. She said that anytime a patient could not afford their medication, Stephanie would search for coupons or verify product pricing to make sure every patient had access to their medication. Meri said, “Mrs. Thurman was amazing, considerate, and I learned so much in the short time I was with her. Because of her, I will be shopping at my local independent pharmacy from now on.”

Here are some additional comments that our students wanted to share about their experiences working alongside Stephanie:

“The best thing about working with Mrs. Thurman was observing the small things that she would do that made such big differences in the lives of her customers.”

“She was a wonderful preceptor and I was so glad to be able to learn from her. The drive was well worth the experience and I am glad to have been assigned to her.”


March 2016 Preceptor of the Month

Chuck Eubanks

Chuck Eubanks

This month we would like to recognize Mr. Chuck Eubanks, owner and operator of TylerRx Pharmacy in Tyler, Texas. Chuck has 35 years of experience in the pharmacy field and has been working as a pharmacist in Tyler for over 30 years.

Mr. Chuck Eubanks is the owner of TylerRx, a relaxing and comfortable environment located just minutes from the university campus on Fifth Street across from Juicy’s Hamburgers. When you step inside TylerRx, you are not walking into a traditional pharmacy. It is TylerRx’s extraordinary staff and welcoming atmosphere that has caught the attention of our students assigned there for practice experiences. Mr. Eubanks, they say, is the one who has made all the difference.

During a recent professionalism and reflection forum, the students assigned to TylerRx commented on how much emphasis Mr. Eubanks places on patient care. He often walks out into the front lobby and greets his customers personally, addressing each one by name. What the students found most remarkable was that his sincerity does not stop at the front counter. He is the same man behind the counter as he is in front of the counter. The key that they have learned from their experiences with Mr. Eubanks is that patient care is an attribute that comes a compassionate heart. Here are a few things students had to say about Mr. Eubanks.  

“The pharmacist and the staff members are just phenomenal to work with. Mr. Eubanks is hardworking and creates time out of his busy schedule to explain everything that the student needs to know about the site. I had a great experience working with him.”

“Mr. Eubanks cares for others and their well-being, as well as my knowledge base and my education.”

“The staff are so friendly and helpful. I'm thrilled I was selected for Tyler Rx and certainly recommend this site for any incoming student or patient. I've learned much from the staff as well as from my preceptor … I'm very thankful to have him as my preceptor.”

Experiences like these cannot be taught in the classroom. We want to thank Dr. Eubanks for his time and dedication to our students, and for showing them how communication and individualized care are vital to pharmacy practice.


February, 2016 Preceptor of the Month


Dr. Robert Button

This month we would like to recognize Dr. Robert Button, pharmacy manager, at the Brookshire’s store in Mineola, TX.  

Ngoc Nguyen, first-year pharmacy student, was assigned to Dr. Button’s practice site for her Introductory Community Pharmacy Practice Experience. Since the beginning of the year, flu shot requests generally wane, therefore, Ngoc was unsure if she would get any practice immunizing patients during her rotation.

However, Dr. Button decided to act as her patient, and he allowed Ngoc to administer one IM injection and one sub-Q injection using saline solution. The exercise was a success, and both Ngoc and her “patient” did extremely well. Dr. Button then surprised his student with a different type of simulation. This patient was a CPR mannequin, which came courtesy of Ms. Stephanie Voyles, pharmacy CPR trainer with Brookshire Grocery Co.

With the mannequin lying motionless on the floor, Dr. Button asked his student what she would do if a patient ever lost consciousness in the store. Ngoc held her composure and walked through the CPR process with her preceptor and was able to “save the life” of her mannequin-patient. The activity did not end there, Ngoc was able to administer one more immunization to Ms. Voyles who needed an update on her Tdap vaccination.

Looking back at the exercise, Ngoc stated, “My preceptor always assigns activities that challenge me.” She went on to add that her preceptor is constantly giving her assignments that really help to broaden her view of pharmacy practice. She is learning new things and applying those principles in real life. When asked to describe her preceptor using one word, Ngoc said, “Inspiring.”

We want to thank Dr. Button for his creative simulation activities that further educate the student. These are the stories that Ngoc will no doubt pass on to others after she graduates pharmacy school and enters the field of pharmacy.


January 2016 Preceptor of the Month


Pam Miller

Starting off the year of 2016 we would like to shine the spotlight on Pam Miller at Nacogdoches Medical Center in Nacogdoches, Texas. Pam has been a supporter of the Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy since its inception. Pam even makes the long drive from Nacogdoches to Tyler to sit on the Experiential Education Advisory Committee. She worked closely with her student last semester and really took this individual under her wings teaching him the valuable role a pharmacist plays behind the scenes in a hospital setting. Pam has been a delight to work with, and has proven to be an integral member of our experiential team.

“Small but mighty” are the words she uses to describe her pharmacy, which is tucked away on the third floor of the Nacogdoches Medical Center. For many walking through the halls of this hospital the pharmacy is easy to miss, but the service that Pam and her staff provide has impacted more than just her patients and the local community. One such individual was Paul Dang, a first-year pharmacy student in the College of Pharmacy. Paul had an amazing experience working as an intern trainee with Pam, and many of his experiences there helped to influence his view on patient care and pharmacy as a profession.

One of Paul’s weekly activities as a pharmacy intern trainee required him to interview a nurse on staff at the hospital, and Pam set up the meeting so the two could meet. During the interview there was a Code Blue and the nurse dropped everything to attend to her patient, who was then in critical condition.

The nurse invited Paul to come and watch as the medical team did all they could to rescue the individual who laid helplessly on the hospital bed. But none felt more helpless than Paul as he realized just how important the medical team was to the well-being of this patient. Reflecting back on the incident Paul writes, “I came to realize that everyone in the healthcare industry works hand-in-hand together to save a person’s life.”

Paul was very concerned about the patient and met with Pam a week after the incident to discuss the outcome. Pam took the time to help him understand how precious and valuable life is. Most importantly, she used Paul’s experience as a learning opportunity to emphasize to him the vital role that pharmacy plays in the institutional setting, which goes beyond the daily work of counting and dispensing medications.

Though his time in Nacogdoches only lasted seven weeks, Paul speaks highly of Pam and describes his experience in the hospital as one that has forever changed his life. We want to thank Pam for the time she spent with the student, helping to shape his view of pharmacy, and influencing him as a future professional. We would be lost without our preceptors who take the time to pour all of their knowledge and experience into their students.