Sofia Gezalyan (USC PharmD ’06), pharmacist-in-charge and manager of inpatient pharmacy services at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, 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? What do you enjoy about it?
It provides me an utmost gratification and fulfillment to take part in mentoring and nurturing the upcoming pharmacists. It has always been my career goal to give back to the profession and inspire the future generation of pharmacists. My day in my profession is more successful when I teach, and subsequently I learn more and am a better and a more knowledgeable pharmacist by simply being a preceptor.
How has the School of Pharmacy helped you in your career today? Why do you think prospective students should consider the School of Pharmacy?
Having been a USC School of Pharmacy student myself, and being assigned to be a student at the very site that I am currently working (Hollywood Presbyterian), has given me the opportunity and the start of my career here. The school introduced me to a site where I enjoyed learning, and was acknowledged by the management/pharmacist team who subsequently offered me a position. My career as a pharmacist really started when I was a student at this site, and I owe it to that experience and feel accountable to continue and enhance the teaching program here. My passion and enthusiasm for my profession was acknowledged, further nurtured and provided the growth and advancement by other preceptors, allowing me to exert and enhance my passion to continue my career path through many promotions: from being a clinical pharmacist to clinical coordinator to pharmacy services manager, pharmacist-in-charge (PIC) and also a USC site coordinator and preceptor and also a USC residency program director.
USC has a tightly-knit alumni network. How did this network benefit you during your time at USC and after your time at USC? What resources available at USC did you find particularly helpful?
It has now been 10 years since I have graduated from the USC School of Pharmacy and also being a USC undergraduate alumni, the USC pride and network has not only carried me through the last 14 years in such strength, but it is as strong, or stronger today as it was then. I often speak about, and am amazed at, USC’s network and alumni pride. It is always apparent and noted by non-USC alumni, how envious they are of the pride and excitement we have for one another, to empower and assist one another.
What advice do you have for current pharmacy students?
My advice for the current pharmacy students: Make the most during your introductory pharmacy practice experience (IPPE) and advanced pharmacy practice experience (APPE) rotations to learn anything you can from your preceptors. Also, treat each of your experiences at your sites as if they are 5-6 week interview sessions. Evaluate each rotation site as if it is a place where you might see yourself working. Some students do their rotation just to complete the rotation. Others are really invested and are so enthusiastic to learn, they make the most of their rotations. Know that when you have passion for your profession, even at the stage of being a student, it is visible in your efforts during rotations. Your efforts and passion shine through your work, without your active effort. That passion can and will lead you to a successful career path, even while you are in school, as that is exactly how it happened to me and many others I know.
Why should other pharmacists consider being a preceptor for the school?
Being a preceptor forces you to stay up-to-date with information in order to teach it, which is absolutely critical with the fast-paced changes in our field. We all tell ourselves we will read and stay abreast of all the new information, but in the midst of our busy lives we find it is easy to lose track and fall behind, as the pace of change in the field is so rapid. Being a preceptor organizes your time and priorities so you always read and learn, in order to be able to practice and teach current information.