Faculty Preceptor of the Year
Bree Watazak, Pharm.D., BCPS
Mentoring in critical moments
Every year, the graduating class at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy selects a faculty preceptor who demonstrates high standards of professionalism, mentorship and superior clinical practice for the Faculty Preceptor of the Year.
Bree Watzak, Pharm.D., BCPS, assistant professor of pharmacy practice based in College Station with a clinical site at St. Joseph Hospital and associate member of the graduate faculty of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Office of Graduate Programs, was selected this year.
She teaches challenging rotations in critical care and emergency medicine electives. Students might learn in an emergency room or substance abuse center, two health care environments where students quickly expand their skills, knowledge, expertise and empathy for patients.
Watzak also facilitates drug addiction elective courses and takes students to a week-long program on alcoholism and other drug dependencies at the University of Utah School of Medicine each summer in Salt Lake City, Utah. In June 2013, three Class of 2015 professional student pharmacists, Nicole Wilson of Corpus Christi, Texas, Annie Lozano of Premont, Texas, and Jessica Schneider of Schulenburg, Texas, attended the conference.
“At the conference, I immediately saw what a kind-hearted, selfless individual Dr. Watzak was,” Lozano said. “She taught me valuable qualities all health care professionals should have – to be nonjudgmental, compassionate and patient.”
The experience challenged them both emotionally and professionally, as they witnessed firsthand how addiction effects a person by observing the 12-step programs and group therapy sessions. They learned that addiction is not purely a choice of an individual, but it is a disease.
“I learned that overcoming an addiction is something that has to be done progressively,” Wilson said. “I want to fight side-by-side with those facing a daily battle with addiction; I have a desire to do whatever it takes to help those who are suffering.”
The program allowed students to see addiction from the perspective of others while expanding their knowledge of the disease, using innovative strategies and methods.
“With her support, we were able to grasp a better understanding of addiction in order to better serve patients with the disease,” Schneider said. Each student learned that anyone from any background could suffer from the disease.
Students said they could not imagine having a better mentor when learning about drug abuse and addiction. Watzak approaches the topic with an open mind and an open heart.
“She encourages students to dig deeper than the science and feel the emotions of addiction from the user aspect, the family aspect and the provider aspect,” Wilson said. “Addiction affects every single part of someone’s life; and it is very important to understand that in learning the process of treating this disease state.”
Upon having Watzak as a preceptor, students said they learned to understand others and their own needs.
“She advised me to moderately change and to commit to activities only as time and my capabilities would allow,” said Class of 2015 graduate Lawrence Kwan of Webster, Texas. “She gave me encouragement when I needed it the most, never bringing up my failures without advice to go with it. Dr. Watzak played a prominent role in the most recent years.”
In addition to electives, Watzak serves on the interprofessional experience committee with the Texas A&M Health Science Center where she leads the efforts for pharmacy students on Disaster Day in College Station each year with more than 400 professional students from medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy.