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School of Pharmacy

John Arross

Preceptor of the Year

ArrossThe University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy named two Preceptors of the Year for the 2016-17 academic year. Pharmacist John Arross, who precepts students at Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, WY was one of the award recipients. John was interviewed to find out the secrets to his success when working with students so that other preceptors can learn from him. Below are his tips and ideas on how to educate and motivate students in a variety of rotation settings.

John earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy in 1989. Right out of school he worked four different jobs while living in El Paso, TX. He worked in hospital and retail pharmacy, as wells as in home health. He also taught Pharmacy Calculations to technicians at El Paso Community College. When the retail pharmacy he worked for went bankrupt, he worked in the hospital and home health and did relief work for another chain during his free time. While at El Paso Community College he also co-authored a text book which was one of the first ever published for pharmacy technicians.

From El Paso, John moved to Grand Junction, CO where he worked in the hospital pharmacy and did relief work for an independent pharmacy. He also wrote the pharmacology section of an NCLEX review for nursing students. John eventually moved to Casper, WY where he did relief work part-time for a home health company and worked full-time at the hospital. He started as a staff pharmacist at the hospital and then moved to the Pharmacy Educator position. From there he became the Pharmacy Manager and then the Pharmacy Director and he now holds the position as the Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) Pharmacist. During this time John also taught two pharmacy technician classes and a nursing pharmacology course.

John started preceptoring students while working in Grand Junction doing home health care work. He also preceptored several types of students while as a Pharmacy Educator in Casper. John likes being a preceptor as it continually enhances his own knowledge and strengthens his practice by the questions students ask and the research they conduct to find the answers. He also likes to share with students his experiences and how to take advantage of opportunities. John uses the feedback from student evaluations to continually improve his rotation. Things he has learned from students include:

  1. They like to have an idea of what they are going to learn while on rotation.

  2. They like exposure to uncommon tasks performed by pharmacists in addition to the usual pharmacist tasks.

  3. They like to have a list of activities and projects that will occur during the rotation and they really appreciate it when the preceptor actually uses the list.

  4. If you are passionate and engaged in what you do, the students will follow suit.

Not only does John utilize the student evaluations about his rotation to help further develop himself as a preceptor, but he also studies and goes to classes himself. He uses his role as a student to think about how he works through different subjects he struggles with, and he tries to incorporate strategies used by instructors who have helped him master subjects in his own teaching. Students see this and it encourages them to try and be good learners and think of new ways to learn.

Because John is an extrovert and likes interacting with people, he often uses humor as an ice breaker, as well as to teach and handle difficult situations. Another strategy he uses to connect with students is to explain to them his thought process and why he does what he does. For example, he lets students know that when he’s really focusing on something he often makes a face, and therefore students needn’t make too much out of it, as it’s nothing personal toward them. Lastly, he lets the students “drive” so they are engaged in the process and feel a sense of accomplishment by taking an active role in whatever task they are working on.

John really enjoys having students on rotation, and students who take his rotation really enjoy having him as a preceptor. His jovial manner and dedication to helping students is truly appreciated by those he has preceptored. One of the students who nominated John sums up the sentiments of many of his students by writing, “I would recommend John Arross for the Preceptor of the Year award because he is an excellent teacher. John was focused on my learning and truly cared about me getting the best experience I possibly could on my rotation. He is also very personable and not afraid to challenge me when it comes to asking questions. While this was not a direct patient care rotation, I feel that this was an extremely well thought out rotation and that I gained valuable skills from this site that will give me a leg up in the field of pharmacy.”



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