Dee Dee McEwen, director of introductory pharmacy practice experiences in the College of Pharmacy, helps her students learn to think like a pharmacist and emphasizes respect for patients, peers and fellow health care team members.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
In 1999, I earned a Doctor of Pharmacy from the UGA College of Pharmacy. Currently, I am a public service assistant. I serve as the director of introductory pharmacy practice experiences within the College of Pharmacy. This position has many responsibilities that include coordinating more than 300 experiential hours for first-, second- and third-year pharmacy students. These experiences include community and institutional health system pharmacy, immunization training, disaster preparedness training, health coaching, medication therapy management services and service-learning.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I have “bled red and black” my entire life. I grew up in the Athens area and never left. I feel very fortunate to give back to the community that molded me into who I am today. After graduation, I was employed by Kroger Pharmacy on Alps Road. I stayed involved with the College of Pharmacy by precepting fourth-year students, participating as a host store for patient counseling and being a practice site/residency preceptor for the community pharmacy residency program. In 2009, a second-year introductory pharmacy practice experiences coordinator position was developed within the College of Pharmacy. This position interested me because it bridged academia and community pharmacy practice to help instill the concepts of service-learning in a “real-patient” environment.
What are your favorite courses and why?
All courses I coordinate encompass direct patient care. I like this particular aspect of experiential education as it allows students the opportunity to put the skills and knowledge learned in didactic and laboratory classes into an actual patient care environment. Over time, I am able to see students transition into practitioners.
What interests you about your field?
It’s all about improving patient outcomes. I love the blend of science, anatomy, pathophysiology, pharmaceutics, pharmacotherapy and patient care that pharmacy allows. I love the accessibility that pharmacists provide to their patients. Pharmacy is always evolving and interwoven with other health care disciplines. With the possibility of obtaining health care provider status nationally, it is an exciting time to be a pharmacist. There is absolutely no way to become stagnant or complacent within the pharmacy profession.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
I cannot imagine a more supportive environment for personal development than the UGA College of Pharmacy. In 2010, I was able to participate in the Service-Learning Fellows Program. Being able to create a sustainable smoking cessation program for UGA employees (Beat the Pack) is one of the memorable highlights of my career. In 2012, the Office of Service-Learning awarded me the UGA Teaching Excellence Award. In 2013, I became director of introductory pharmacy practice experiences. Being promoted to this position has been an exciting and rewarding honor. I look forward to helping create and implement superb practices so our graduates are able to develop solutions for health care barriers that their patients face.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I attempt to weave scholarship into each of my teaching activities. Findings from research help me evaluate the value of the educational activities and allow me to design activities that lead to improved student learning and/or patient outcomes.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
When students reflect back on their introductory pharmacy practice experiences, I hope they have gained experience with using evidence-based practices that coincide with patients’ cultural and health beliefs. Therefore, it is my goal that the students learn how to think like a pharmacist. It is important for them to realize that the classroom is a controlled environment. Real life has uncontrolled variables. By incorporating discovery-based pedagogies, I hope students develop a standardized approach to delivering patient care. Most importantly, I want students to leave with a respect for their patients, peers and fellow health care team members. If I’ve been successful, the students will understand accountability with regards to knowledge, skills and attitudes both inside and outside the classroom.
Describe your ideal student.
An ideal pharmacy student would have the following traits: self-awareness, resourcefulness, motivation, trustworthiness and enthusiasm. An ideal student would be a leader and problem-solver.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
My favorite places at UGA are Sanford Stadium and Stegeman Coliseum. I love cheering for the Dawgs—especially the Gym Dogs!
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
My hobbies include traveling and water skiing. Other than traveling in the U.S., my favorite country for sightseeing is New Zealand. However, one of the most breathtaking travel experiences was climbing the Great Wall of China. I enjoy watching my oldest daughter play softball and basketball and my youngest daughter perform at gym meets.
Community/civic involvement includes….
In the past, I was very involved with the Athens Junior League and its outreach efforts. Through my service-learning endeavors, I have had the privilege of working with several nonprofit entities, including Camp Blue Skies and Mercy Health Center. I spend two weeks out of each summer in Moultrie, Ga., assisting the Farm Worker Family Health Program.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
My favorite movie is “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” For my 40th birthday, my dream is to buy a 1957 Corvette with a 283-cidV8 engine that will clock 0-60 in five seconds. I love fast cars!
Proudest moment at UGA?
A very proud moment at UGA was in 2011 when the Division of Experience Programs was awarded the American Pharmacists Association Immunization Champion Award—Honorable Mention Community Outreach. Providing immunizations is one of my passions. The proudest moment at UGA occurs each May when all of our graduates enter the workforce as gainfully employed pharmacists.