Faculty Preceptor of the Year: Charlotte Farris

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Student pharmacists on six six-week rotations in their fourth year are often vulnerable. The transition from the classroom setting to clinical practice is jolting; the learning curve is very sharp.

“I have seen many students struggle with the responsibilities and expectations of a pharmacist out in practice,” said Charlotte Farris, assistant professor of pharmacy at the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy practice in Temple, Texas. “However, one of the most rewarding parts of precepting students is witnessing them recover their confidence and realize the impact they can have on the quality of someone’s life by ensuring safe and appropriate medication use. In those moments, I see students reinvigorated about their role in the profession and it becomes clear to them that all of their hard work over the past several years has finally paid off.”

Farris received the Faculty Preceptor of the Year award in the spring, as chosen by her professional student pharmacists.

“Dr. Farris has a vast amount of knowledge, but enforces the need to check what she says and not take her word for it, which is an important lesson to learn when it’s your license on the line,” said Garrett Goode, Class of 2013. “I think her high expectations are good because she really pushes her students to levels they didn’t realize they could achieve.”

As the health care community continues to recognize the impact pharmacists have on the quality of patient care, Farris’ clinical site has built an excellent relationship with other members of the health care team.

“I expect this to continue to grow with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “The need for competent care and preventative services will increase and this is the perfect opportunity for many pharmacists to reach beyond their predominantly distributive models of practice and take a more active role in impacting the decisions made about the medications prescribed to our patients.”

Carlos Robledo, Class of 2013, said that it wasn’t too long before he realized that Farris’ rotation was taking him out of his comfort zone.

“I realized that the change from class room to this general medicine rotation was gonna be so ... uncomfortable,” he said. “Dr. Farris took my personal goals, along with her goals for me and made me accountable for attaining those goals.”

Farris’ philosophy on preparing students on rotation to become competent, caring practitioners revolves around focusing on improving the skills and abilities they will need to take care of patients in the future.

“I do not believe that my role as an educator is to simply exchange knowledge over a six-week rotation,” she said. “I often tell students at the beginning of the rotation that my goal by the end is for them ‘not to need me anymore.’ I want to prepare my students to be confident, independent, compassionate practitioners, capable of ensuring every patient they come in contact with is on the safest and most appropriate medication regimen available.”

Robledo said he has Farris to thank because she knew what to say and not to say as she guided him through the rotation and allowed him to find himself to become a confident student.

“She fostered an environment for learning and I do believe going through this rotation has made me a better student,” he said. “It was not easy, but I’m glad we made it through and I will always appreciate Dr. Farris’ help.”

Farris said her role focuses on her teaching contributions which take place in two different settings, her clinical practice at Scott & White Memorial Hospital and inside the classrooms of Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy.

“I am extremely lucky to have these two diverse teaching experiences continually impact my approach as an educator,” she said. “In the classroom, I bring my practice experience as a clinical pharmacist in internal medicine to simulate ‘real-world’ scenarios for students to apply and practice their newly acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities.”

At her practice site, her teaching experiences help her create a structured learning environment that allows fourth-year student pharmacists and pharmacy residents to focus their time on achieving their professional goals and objectives.

Farris is from San Marcos, Texas. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Farris received her doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Texas at Austin.

Farris went through her pharmacy practice residency at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, where she is currently a clinical pharmacist for internal medicine.