5 Ways to Make Your Mark as a Pharmacy Professor

AUGUST 09, 2016
Pharmacy professors have generally completed a residency or fellowship, or at least the equivalent in practice experience. With this powerful knowledge and experience, professors have the opportunity to serve as a fundamental resource for aspiring pharmacists. 
As a former pharmacy professor, I’d like to offer 5 tips for this important chapter in your career:

1. Balance Your Practice Site and University Responsibilities
This may be easier said than done, so discuss with your supervisor the expectations of how to split your time as a pharmacy faculty member. You’ll most likely be asked to do presentations for health care professionals at your practice site.

Think about each request and determine whether you have the time. Don’t be afraid to say no, especially when you’re starting your first 6 months as a professor. You may feel like you’re being pulled in a variety of different directions, which can be overwhelming. So, seek out a senior faculty member to serve as your mentor.

2. Create Clear Lectures with Learning Objectives
Generally speaking, it’s best to develop your learning objectives before creating your lecture. Create between 3 and 5 learning objectives for each lecture, and then develop your test questions directly off of them. 
Everyone has a different teaching style, and there are a variety of different lecture methods, like PowerPoint presentations and handouts. Just as students should avoid cramming for exams, it’s best for you to spend time each day working on your lecture. After you’ve completed it, send it to a colleague to review and provide feedback.

3. Incorporate Active Learning Opportunities into Each Lecture
Some universities don’t have mandatory attendance, meaning you could either be teaching a class of 10 or 200. Regardless, it’s important to give students a reason to attend class. What will they gain from coming to your class versus watching your lecture online from home? 
Active learning experiences can include incorporating case-based discussions and asking questions periodically during class. Also, check if your university has an audience response system. This provides students with the opportunity to answer questions from a device like a clicker, smartphone, or iPad.

4. Seek Out Publishing Opportunities
Many universities have publishing requirements for pharmacy faculty, so consult senior faculty to determine the requirements. Start formulating research ideas as soon as you start your position. With any research project, your ultimate goal should be publishing the findings in a peer-reviewed journal. 
I also recommend signing up to be a peer reviewer for a journal like the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. This will help enhance your writing skills.

5. Serve as a Student Organization Advisor
Serving as an advisor for a student organization will not only enhance your leadership skills, but also provide you with the opportunity to get to know your students and lend them your expertise. You can also assist with various health screenings and community events.
I wish you the best of luck as a pharmacy professor. You truly have an exciting and rewarding journey ahead of you.

Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, received her PharmD degree from Nova Southeastern University (NSU) College of Pharmacy in 2006 and completed a 2-year drug information residency. She served as a pharmacy professor at NSU’s College of Pharmacy for 6 years, managed the drug information center, and conducted medication therapy management reviews. Dr. Gershman has published research on prescription drug abuse, regulatory issues, and drug information in various scholarly journals. Additionally, she received the Sheriff’s Special Recognition Award for her collaboration with the Broward, Florida Sheriff’s Office to prevent prescription drug abuse through a drug disposal program. She has also presented at pharmacist and physician continuing education programs on topics that include medication errors, prescription drug abuse, and legal and regulatory issues. Dr. Gershman can be followed on Twitter @jgershman2