July 7, 2021
Members of the Office of Experiential Education and Community Engagement with their certificates from AACP
Thank you to our Office of Experiential Education and Community Engagement and preceptors for ensuring that all students could earn their rotation hours through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each year, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) presents the Award of Excellence in Experiential Education to one deserving individual or group of individuals for their outstanding contribution to the world of experiential education. In recognition of tremendous effort required to keep experiential education departments operational despite unimaginable pandemic related challenges, AACP is granting this award to all institutional members.

The University of Michigan College of Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Education and Community Engagement facilitates practical experiences for our Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students, preparing them to practice effectively in any pharmacy setting.  Our PharmD students complete over 1,900 hours of hands-on experiences. A preceptor - a practicing, licensed pharmacist, who plays a vital role in the education of our students, leads these practical experiences.

The team, led by Paul Walker, PharmD, FASHP, FMPA, Assistant Dean for Experiential Education and Clinical Professor of Pharmacy, has “gone above and beyond at every step these last months,” says Dean Walker. “They have worked tirelessly and creatively to address the innumerable issues arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Over the past months, we had hundreds of email exchanges and phone calls with preceptors and students to determine closed sites, open sites, transitions to remote-based work, rotation reassignments, and rotation site student requirement changes,” explains Donna Pikula, DDS, MS, Assistant Director for Experiential Education and Community Engagement. “Our team worked together with College faculty and deans, to brainstorm, develop and implement plans for each individual PharmD student to help them stay on track. Through these efforts, our Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 were able to graduate on time and our other students have been able to move forward in their PharmD program.”

“I’m proud of the OEE team; we took every hurdle in stride,” adds Zahra Saad, MPAP, Student Administrative Assistant Senior. “Rotation cancelations occurred frequently this past year, but we did everything we can to find the students new rotations. I also want to recognize our amazing preceptors. They stepped up to the plate and assisted us making it possible for all of our students to graduate on time.”

“I found it incredible how accessible the preceptors were when we were reaching out to see if they were still able to have students on site or working remotely on rotations,” continues Caitlin Ferguson, MA, Program Manager for Experiential Education and Community Engagement. “Despite us all being in a situation no one had ever been in prior, our preceptors stayed in communication with us and continued to work with our students to ensure they were able to graduate. It is truly a testament to the dedication and quality of our preceptors.”

“Across the board, we have so many preceptors who agreed to offer rotations in different rotation blocks, offered additional rotations and/or increased the rotation availability in the same blocks they had previously offered,” says Julie Markum, JD, Administrative Specialist. “A majority of our preceptors also had to be creative at some point during the pandemic to adapt their rotations to site changes, including offering fully-remote or semi-remote rotations. It truly was everyone at our rotation sites pitching in and trying to make the best out of a stressful time so that our students could stay on track for graduation and PharmD program progression.”

Elaine Chateau, Senior Student Administration Assistant for Experiential Education and Community Engagement, retired from the College on May 2, 2020. She was an indispensable member of the team and graciously stepped back in to provided additional support during the pandemic.