Kristal Gordon (USC PharmD ’80), clinical pharmacist at California State University, Northridge, explains why she volunteers as a preceptor to mentor USC School of Pharmacy students and introduce them to “real world” experiences.
Why did you choose to become a preceptor?
I was first asked to be a preceptor a few years after I graduated. I was so honored and I thought it was so important to give back to the University for all that was given to me.
As time passed, I realized I wanted to have an impact on the future generations of my potential colleagues. I wanted to make sure that the future USC School of Pharmacy students understood that it was not just another class they were completing, or a step towards a career. They will be representing all of us not only as professionals in a very important career as a Pharmacist, but also as a part of the Trojan Family, an important link to their future as well.
Then as more time passed I realized how much I could learn from these future pharmacists. I was teaching them and sharing my knowledge and experience, but they were also doing the same for me from a different perspective, whether it was new ideas they were learning in school, or new technology.
What do you enjoy about it?
I see the students blossom and become more passionate for pharmacy as they seem to understand the importance of communication, not only as part of the health care team, but as they learn and participate in counseling patients. It is so refreshing to see all the new students each year and the excitement and motivation they bring to the profession.
How has the School of Pharmacy helped you in your career today?
USC School of Pharmacy has always been innovative and creative in their approach to education and I have always felt well prepared for all aspects of my career as a Clinical Pharmacist. They continue to follow up with current programs and continuing education that is relevant to current issues.
Why do you think prospective students should consider the School of Pharmacy?
I interact with and mentor pre-pharmacy students and find that USC seems to be the number-one choice for the majority of students. I try to encourage pre-pharmacy students to look at all of their options and find the school that has the best fit for them. USC has such a good reputation as a pharmacy school and has so many innovative programs. If students have truly investigated the different programs, they appreciate the benefit of the alumni networking…the Trojan Family.
USC has a tightly-knit alumni network. How did this network benefit you during your time at USC and after your time at USC?
During my time at USC, the alumni helped many of the students, including myself, get intern jobs. After graduating, they continued to support graduates in their search of professional opportunities, whether it be residencies or career prospects. And of course we continued, now as colleagues and alumni, to interact at educational and social events.
How does the USC School of Pharmacy prepare students for future jobs in the industry?
My classmates and I felt we could do anything in pharmacy that we wanted and USC would make sure we would get it done. However, the opportunities then were not nearly as wide-ranging as they are now. My class has pharmacists who chose every type of career path, from opening their own pharmacy to working in industry and everything in between. We have chain store pharmacists, hospital pharmacists, pharmacists who work for all aspects of the drug companies, from research and development to management. We have university pharmacists, pharmacists who are in top management, and anything else you can think of.
What we all have in common is, we were motivated, we worked hard, and we were educated and well prepared by USC School of Pharmacy. With all the opportunities now available at USC, a potential student may live their dream if they work hard and are motivated.
What advice do you have for current pharmacy students?
You need to work hard, be honest and ethical always, be a forward thinker, stay involved in professional activities and follow your dreams. It is a tough world out there with a lot of competition, constant changes and challenges, but know that you can do it.
Why should other pharmacists consider being a preceptor?
Being a preceptor is fun, challenging, and a good way to give back. As much as you teach these students, they will teach you too. It is definitely a give-and-take proposition. You can help prepare our potential colleagues for the future of the profession. Remember, they are the ones that will be representing all of us and we want to make sure that they do a remarkable job.