Guidance, compassion, motivation, and interest are words Chris Federico uses to describe UConn alumnus Jim Sarigianis. He is, says Federico, “the quintessential preceptor”. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) agrees as Sarigianis was named in the second class of the organization’s Master Preceptor Recognition Program.
Preceptors supervise student pharmacists in a clinical setting, and play a critical role in shaping a student’s future career through teaching and mentoring. “The AACP Master Preceptor Recognition Program recognizes the exemplary preceptors in the academy who support our institutional members and future practitioners,” said Lucinda L. Maine, executive vice president and CEO of AACP. “AACP introduced the Master Preceptor Program to offer our members another tool for recognizing and rewarding our best preceptors who contribute so much to our students learning.”
In 2006, the UConn School of Pharmacy named Sarigianis “Preceptor of the Year” after he was nominated by students that had just graduated from the program. “Jim places a high value on experiential teaching at his practice site and involves his students in every aspect of his practice. Students actually experience the concepts taught in the classroom and make the transition into practice,” says Philip Hritcko, assistant dean of experiential education at UConn.
Former students and colleagues describe Sarigianis as “exceedingly intelligent, wise, well spoken, and genuine”. Nominator Tom Kalista said, “When he spoke, everybody – attending physicians to wide-eyed pharmacy students alike – listened”. Eric Tichy, a former student turned colleague, explained, “He has developed a world class clinical practice and he is consistently held in the highest regard by physicians, nurses, patients, and colleagues. However, his greatest achievement is that he always has time to mentor students and without fail, his students develop a passion for clinical pharmacy”.
Sarigianis, a clinical pharmacist at Yale-New Haven Hospital, credits much of his success to paying close, personal attention to the students and making himself easily accessible to them throughout the day. “I make it very clear to them that they are a very high priority and that I am available to them no matter how busy I may seem,” he says. “In essence, I treat all of my students as I would expect a preceptor to treat my own children.”
AACP estimates that 82 percent of schools use faculty who are jointly-funded by practice sites, and up to 60 percent of total Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience rotations are provided by adjunct or volunteer faculty. The MPRP seeks to recognize preceptors who are not full-time employees of a pharmacy school, but who are critical in creating practice-ready pharmacists. “Experiential learning is more than 25 percent of the curriculum and requires the dedication of so many excellent practitioners,” says Maine.