Preceptor of the Year looks for niche for students

Ron Garza

Ron Garza, R.Ph., of Corpus Christi, Texas

Growing up pumping gas and fixing flats at this father’s store, Sugar Valley Grocery, helped shape Ron Garza, R.Ph., into a preceptor who shares with professional student pharmacists the basics in patient care. He tells them that to ensure the future of the pharmacy profession, they need to focus on these three things – caring for their patients, caring for their pharmacy team members and caring for their profession.

Garza was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. He has been the co-owner of Deleon’s Pharmacy for 15 years.

“He influenced me by being a great manager to his employees and advocate for the pharmacy profession,” said Christina Gonzalez of Alice, Texas, Class of 2014, who had Garza as a preceptor. “Ron cares deeply for all his customers and knows all of them by name. These are the qualities that I hope to practice and build on in my pharmacy.”

Ron Garza receives the Preceptor of the Year awardThe Class of 2014 named Garza the Preceptor of the Year for the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy.

He tells students to remember the strides pharmacists have made by simply caring.

“We are now immunizers, offering Medication Therapy Management and serve a vital role in general medicine,” said Kelsi Gulick of Pearsall, Texas, third-year professional student pharmacist, who also had Garza as a preceptor. “Caring has gotten us a long way.”

Garza, who has been a preceptor since the opening of the college in 2006, searches for a niche for each of the students whom he mentors.

“Ron’s influence on me was instrumental in me becoming what I am today,” said J.F. Trejo, Pharm.D., Class of 2010. “He always told me: ‘I don’t see you as a regular pharmacist in a retail setting.’ I agreed, and we discussed some other options that were out there.”

Garza led Trejo to consider many options in the field of pharmacy which allowed him to seek unconventional areas of pharmacy practice. This led Trejo to his current position with a pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk. 

“My role with Novo Nordisk is basically to help educate medical professionals on diabetes treatments, research and other areas,” Trejo said. “It is unconventional because I am not strictly dealing with medications. I am dealing with all aspects of the disease.  From current guidelines through complications of the disease, I help guide clinicians to make good clinical judgments.  Without Ron’s guidance and encouragement, I am not sure that I would have considered such a unique position.”

Garza took his pre-pharmacy courses at Wharton County Junior College, and he graduated from Texas Southern University in 1985.

He started at an independent pharmacy in Bay City, Texas, with owner Mike Muecke.

“Mike planted that seed in me about being self-made,” Garza said.

Garza also gained experience in the hospital setting as an emergency room pharmacist at Ben Taub and as a chemotherapy pharmacist.

“I try to teach life lessons to my students,” he said. “I give them the independent experience as well as the importance of getting involved with the community as it is imperative that every community have good pharmacists in politics and nonprofits.”

But to Garza, the best experience is watching these students graduate and become successful from the first class to now.

“The college has met the challenge bestowed upon it and answered with high nationally recognized achievements,” Garza said.