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Brittany Jennings
October 8, 2021

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Programs recently received the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s (AACP) Award of Excellence in Experiential Education.

The national award is presented annually to one deserving individual or group of individuals for their outstanding contribution to the world of experiential education. Due to the challenging events surrounding 2020, the Experiential Education Section Awards Committee, with support from AACP, decided to recognize all members of Experiential Education Departments at each pharmacy institution for their tremendous efforts in keeping programs operational despite pandemic-related challenges.

“The efforts to alter experiential curricula, identify alternate rotations, support students in an ever changing environment, develop and implement workflows for COVID-19 exposure and symptom management, adjust to new site onboarding requirements, and develop our preceptors to support remote learning all while maintaining baseline workflows is incredible,”  said Nicki Reitter, Pharm.D., M.S., assistant dean of Experiential Programs at the School. “This award recognizes and exemplifies the work of our experiential programs team at the School along with regional/site leadership across the state, over 300 experiential sites and more than 1,000 preceptors.”

The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy’s Office of Experiential Programs aims to design and deliver innovative practice experiences complemented by contextual learning that results in the development of exemplary graduates ready to provide high-quality, team-based, patient-centered care.

Throughout the pandemic, Reitter said the School’s experiential team, as well as regional site leadership, worked around the clock to ensure completion of experiential hours so students could graduate on-time.

“Our tremendous faculty and preceptors have been working on the frontlines during this pandemic, remained committed to training our students while altering learning experience modalities, and did all of this amid rapidly changing practice models at their sites,” Reitter said.

She added that community pharmacy and non-patient facing sites for the program accommodated UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy students when they were displaced from major health systems across the state. Faculty and administrators in Chapel Hill and Asheville also offered academic rotations and interprofessional telehealth experiences when spaces for students were limited.

“The work of our experiential programs team, regional experiential leadership, faculty and preceptors is admirable. I have no doubt that the commitment of these educators to our students during this pandemic will produce some of the most resilient pharmacists in our profession in the years to come. These efforts will never be forgotten by the School or me as we simply could not have trained the next generation of pharmacists or kept them on track to graduate without you,” Reitter said.

The team’s award was officially announced at the Experiential Education Section Business Meeting on June 3.

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