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School of Pharmacy

Melinda Carroll

Preceptor of the Year 2019-2020

Melinda Carroll, UW School of Pharmacy Preceptor of the Year, 2019-20For the 2019-2020 academic year two Pharmacists were awarded the Preceptor of The Year title from The University of Wyoming (UW) School of Pharmacy. Of the award recipients, Pharmacist Melinda Carroll - a preceptor as well as Pharmacy manager at King Soopers Pharmacy in Cheyenne, WY - was chosen to be interviewed to learn about what she does to earn the respect and admiration from many of her students, as well as what advice she would give to her fellow preceptors looking for ways to guide and encourage their own students. Below is a look at Melinda’s past, what she likes best about being a preceptor, her strengths, what she does when encountering difficult students, how she connects with her students, as well as advice she would give to both preceptors and students alike.

Melinda is the Pharmacy manager of King Soopers in Cheyenne Wy. However, like many of us, her path in the retail business started much sooner. At fourteen Melinda worked at a local Smith’s store as a grocery bagger thus beginning her journey with Kroger and sparking her interest in attaining a business degree. Melinda is an Alumni of the University of Wyoming (UW). She graduated in 2007 with a Business Administration degree. While obtaining her degree Melinda realized that the ideal complement to her interest in business was her passion for Pharmacy. Melinda described her discovery of pharmacy as her perfect fit to both utilize her knowledge in retail business as well as her passion for connecting with and educating people. Business degree in hand, Melinda decided to continue her education and later graduate in 2013 from the UW School of Pharmacy as a PharmD. Which leads us to where Melinda is now, a seasoned Kroger employee of 20 years, a beloved preceptor, a passionate Retail Pharmacist, and dedicated pharmacy manager.

Melinda was asked what she likes best about being a preceptor to students. Her answer? Sharing her passion for pharmacy.  To her, being a preceptor is an opportunity to share the pharmacy community with her students and tell them why she takes pride in being part of it. Melinda continued, that being a preceptor is also a way she advocates for pharmacy, a duty she believes that is shared by all pharmacists. She does this by connecting with her students and answering their questions in order to dispel any concern or negative preconceptions about pharmacy and/or the pharmacy community. Melinda also embraces her duty by showing students the potential career enriching opportunities available as a community pharmacist, as well as just encouraging them to complete their path and get involved.  She does this by being transparent with her students about her experiences, whether good or bad. Melinda shared that often when talking with students, she enjoys discussing the future of Pharmacy and describing the future she sees:  community pharmacists becoming the ambulatory care pharmacists of the future. All while encouraging them to stay informed and giving them a better outlook on what Pharmacy is and what it can be.

When asked about her strengths as a preceptor Melinda responded that, her positive attitude, encouraging nature and her desire to have good communication with her students are some of the traits that she relies on to be the preceptor students have come to expect. To maintain these strengths, Melinda discussed that she constantly works hard to improve her teaching skills. This is because she self-admittedly relies on her good memory, so she has had difficulty in the past adjusting to different methods of learning, and reminds herself that not everyone learns the same, or is as fortunate as she is to easily recall information. One method that Melinda uses to encourage and lead her students is by reviewing side effects, mechanisms of action, drug pathways, as well as other important pharmacy functions with them. She has also found that consistent, good communication with students helps them adjust to the pharmacy and encourages them to ask questions. Melinda is sure that both students’ questions and other real-life pharmacy experiences students have are being met with a positive and clear response, as well as, being sure that if she has a particularly stressful or bad day it is not reflected in her attitude with students or when teaching. She also suggests making recommendations to students as to what assignments they can include in their portfolios and to practice being fully engaged in their learning process.  Melinda feels that the UWSOP prepared her well as a student which has become her main influence on her being a good preceptor.  Connecting to her students personally is something Melinda makes time for, so she is sure to take students to lunch and get to know their interests both within and outside of pharmacy.  Melinda is an extremely active member in the WPhA, so if opportunities arise to include students in WPhA or the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy she will take them to further enrich her students’ education. She also includes them in Board of Pharmacy meetings, legislative meetings and other activities to help them see various opportunities for pharmacist involvement outside of the pharmacy. Melinda encourages other preceptors to also find ways to connect to their students and to be open to opportunities to relate to their students. 

Next, we asked Melinda about how to handle a difficult student. Melinda responded that she does not believe she has ever encountered a difficult student in her years as a preceptor. She believes that a difficult student may just be a student who struggles more with communication. For those students, she provides guidance and shares with them her own habits that she used in order to become more confident in communicating with patients and other healthcare professionals.  Melinda also mentioned that for the students who find that community pharmacy is not the right fit for them that she will discuss with the student their interests in pharmacy and from there try to structure the rotation to those interests and needs.  This is another way Melinda seeks to provide an enriching learning environment for the students, as well as maintain their dedication to their degree.

In the end, Melinda considers herself as simply a “pharmacy nerd” and continues to hone her skills and immerse herself in pharmacy education by reading the Preceptor Related News (PRN) newsletters that the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy (UWSOP) sends out quarterly, taking advantage of the continuing education offered for free to UWSOP preceptors through CEImpact, as well as attending and networking at pharmacy conferences, especially those hosted by the Wyoming Pharmacy Association (WPhA).  (She finds that these networking opportunities lessens any potential feeling of burnout and increases her passion for the profession.) Simply put, as a preceptor and pharmacist Melinda wants to use her role to see each student and future pharmacist to excel and shine. UWSOP thanks you Melinda, for all your hard work and dedication to our students!


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