School’s PharmD Students Learn from Award-Winning APPE Preceptor

Mara Kieser, Stephanie Root

Assistant Professor Mara Kieser presents Stephanie Root with the Larry Boh Clinical Instructor Award. | Photo by Empire Photography

Pharmacist Stephanie Root honored with 2018 Larry Boh Clinical Instructor Excellence Award

By Katie Gerhards

When Stephanie Root was completing her pharmacy practice rotations as a pharmacy student, she paid careful attention to what made certain supervising pharmacist preceptors stand out, and what could be improved. When, as a resident, she had the opportunity to become a preceptor herself, she used that experience as an inspiration for how to connect with and meaningfully impact student pharmacists during their clinical rotations.

This dedication to providing the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy’s PharmD students with a high-quality learning experience is why Root, pharmacy clinical coordinator at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, Wis., is receiving the 2018 Larry Boh Clinical Instructor Award for Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE).

“I had excellent experiences on my rotations, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to pay it forward,” says Root. “I wanted to take the things I really enjoyed as a student pharmacist and change the things that could have worked a little better, and integrate that into the rotations at Sacred Heart.”

Root was nominated for the award—named after a former UW–Madison School of Pharmacy faculty member who had a distinctive passion for teaching—by her PharmD students, who were moved by her willingness to go above and beyond and her readiness to recognize the students as a member of her health care team.

“When I’m explaining a concept to a student, it’s a chance for me to re-engage with that information and reinforce it for myself as well as the student.” –Stephanie Root

“Dr. Root stands out in her passion for helping learners reach their goals,” says Mara Kieser, assistant dean of experiential education and professor with the School’s Pharmacy Practice Division, who presented Root with her award during the 2018 Hooding Ceremony. “The School is fortunate to have someone of her caliber and talent to mentor and teach our student pharmacists to realize their full potential. Passionate preceptors like Stephanie really make a difference in our PharmD students’ career readiness.”

To give her PharmD students structure, Root creates a schedule for each rotation that outlines where they will be working on which days, but also builds in some flexibility to customize the rotation to the students’ unique interests.

“She went out of her way to plan unique opportunities for me, such as observing an open heart surgery, shadowing a dialysis nurse, and spending time in the in-patient psych ward,” one student pharmacist wrote. “She provided interesting tasks that I was passionate to work on, and they really made me feel like a part of the team.”

In addition to the schedule, Root also sets clear expectations from day one and builds opportunities for communication and clinical discussions of disease states and policies throughout the week.

“When I’m explaining a concept to a student, it’s a chance for me to re-engage with that information and reinforce it for myself as well as the student,” says Root.

Although she’s been a preceptor for the UW–Madison School of Pharmacy’s PharmD students since 2012, she continues to work to improve their clinical learning experience with her, through weekly “feedback Friday” meetings.

“Student pharmacists keep us on our toes because they’re learning the newest updates and guidelines, and their time is valuable to us, helping us out with projects we wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” says Root. “So I want to make sure that the experience is valuable to them as well.”

Sacred Heart Hospital takes a team learning approach to precepting, and Root’s colleagues, Cheryl Chell, Jodi Trangsrud, Brenda Gyorfi, Director of Pharmacy John VanDeVoort, along with the other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians at the site, also play an important role in providing an immersive learning experience to student pharmacists.

“Everyone on my team knows what needs to happen, including the pharmacy students,” says Root. “Learning occurs best when expectations are clear.”

Read about more award-winning pharmacists mentoring UW–Madison School of Pharmacy PharmD students.

Learn more about the School’s Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences for PharmD students.