The 2018 Preceptors of the Year were honored at a reception held at the Hartford Downtown Marriott during American Pharmacists Month last last fall. This year’s winners, all of whom were selected based on student nominations, included Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) Preceptors John Del Debbio, Jr.(Community Practice), Ellen Santoro (Institutional Practice), and Annie Sanchez Krawiac (Service Learning). Those preceptors representing Advance Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) included Adjunct Faculty Preceptor of the year Rich Gannon and Faculty Preceptor of the Year, Christina Polomoff.
In her remarks to the assembled families, friends, and colleagues of the honorees, Jill Fitzgerald, Director of Experiential Learning and Continuing Professional Development (top photo center), said, “This is the 17th year in which we have honored UConn School of Pharmacy Preceptors in this manner. It is our chance to thank them for the countless hours, weeks, and months they devote to helping our students to be the best they can be.”
In directing her comments to the award recipients, she continued, “When we say ‘we couldn’t do it without you’ we mean it. Without your efforts, we couldn’t deliver the type of quality education we pride ourselves in providing. Our students are proof that all your hard work pays off, year after year. We thank you for your dedication. We thank you for providing our students with real world experience and wisdom. And we thank you for the time you spend helping students see their path in our wonderful, rewarding profession.”
UConn School of Pharmacy students in their professional years participate in educational programs designed to provide ‘hands on’ experiences in professional settings. First year professional students (P1) have a community pharmacy based introductory experience and second year- or P2 – students have a similar experience in an institutional setting. P3 students benefit from working in a service learning setting, such as shelters, migrant farm camps, and health fairs. Fourth year students participate in month long advanced experiences in a wide variety of pharmacy practice settings ranging from community to institutional to ambulatory care and industry where pharmacists and other caregivers are engaged in the betterment of health care.
Del Debbio is a graduate of UConn’s School of Pharmacy where he received his BS in 1991. He has worked at the Rite Aid pharmacy in Waterbury for many years and at Hancock’s Pharmacy in Meriden, which is his current practice site. In nominating him as IPPE Community Preceptor of the Year, a student wrote, “He was of great help for my rotation. I had never had an experience in pharmacy before, but he taught me a lot and by the end of my rotation, I was way more confident. He answered every question very patiently and gave me independence for doing everyday functions.”
Santoro recently retired from St.Francis Hospital in Hartford where she had served as a staff pharmacist specializing in medical teaching, geriatrics, and rehab units and as a preceptor for many years. She graduated from UConn in 1982 with a BS in Pharmacy. Students nominating her for IPPE Institutional Preceptor of the Year said, “I received constructive feedback and all of my objectives were clearly presented to me. I had nothing but positive interactions with pharmacy staff.” Another student wrote, “Ms. Santoro was a great preceptor and my institutional rotation was a great learning experience.”
The third IPPE preceptor award was the Service Learning IPPE. Although her practice site is at Pharmerica, Annie Sanchez Krawiac has spent countless hours volunteering at summer and fall Migrant Farm Worker’s Clinics throughout the State. During this time, she has served as a mentor to many UConn pharmacy students who are uniformly grateful for her patience and willingness to share her expertise as they interact with a patient cohort with whom they may be largely unfamiliar.
Gannon is a pain management specialist in the Department of Pharmacy Services at Hartford Hospital and an adjunct assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice in the School of Pharmacy. He earned his BS in pharmacy from UConn in 1976 and his Pharm.D. from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science. He has been seeing inpatients with pain management issues for over 30 years. In nominating him as APPE Adjunct Preceptor of the Year, one student wrote, “Dr. Gannon is the most inspiring pharmacist I have ever worked with. He is one of those people you feel lucky to get the chance to learn from. His enthusiasm to work with students makes coming to rotation exciting … he is the most admirable pharmacist I have worked with.”
Polomoff, the Faculty APPE Preceptor of the Year, received her Pharm.D. From UConn in 2014. In addition to her faculty responsibilities, she is Population Health Clinical Pharmacist at Integrated Care Partners/Hartford Health Care in Wethersfield. Students said, “Dr. Polomoff was a phenomenal preceptor! I consider myself very lucky to have had her as my preceptor,” and “I learned so much from her rotation and would recommend this as a ‘must have’ rotation for every student.” Another said, “… she is the definition of professional.’
The person for whom the Preceptor of the Year award is named, Dennis J. Chapron (pictured above with Ellen Santoro), was also honored at the ceremony. Chapron served as associate professor of Pharmacy Practice in the School of Pharmacy for 34 years prior to his retirement, and Fitzgerald said of him, “As a teacher, mentor, and friend to students and colleagues, Dennis left an immeasurable legacy. Known for his excellence in teaching, he twice received the School of Pharmacy’s Teacher of the Year Award and was named Preceptor of the Year in 2001.”
In concluding her remarks, Fitzgerald commented that although five people were named recipients of the 2018 Preceptor of the Year honors, the School of Pharmacy has over 400 student winners each year thanks to all the preceptors who devote countless hours helping to develop the next generation of pharmacists. “Thank you!” she said in conclusion, “We look forward to working with all our invaluable preceptors in the years to come.”