Teaching Students Near and Far: Kathleen Cather, R.Ph.

Some faculty teach afar at practice sites, others teach right here on campus; but shared faculty members like Kathleen Cather, R.Ph., have the privilege to experience both. Cather, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice, has spent the last nine years teaching students four days a week at Beacon Charitable Pharmacy in Canton, Ohio, and one day a week at Northeast Ohio Medical University. Over the past year, she began to dedicate a number of weekends to NEOMED’s SOAR Student-Run Free Clinic, where Cather was recently named as its Pharmacy Preceptor of the Year.

“I think the interaction between the medicine and pharmacy students is what makes the SOAR Clinic special,” says Cather. “If you see these students operate in the Clinic, it is truly interprofessional. They work right alongside each other to give the best medical care for their patients. It’s really neat to watch and see them grow.”

Preparing pharmacists in training

As practice-based faculty, Cather mentors first- through fourth-year College of Pharmacy students as they complete their experiential rotations.

Each pharmacy student is required to spend a month learning in a practice site that is focused on caring for underserved populations. The Beacon Charitable Pharmacy, where Cather works, is one of those experiential education sites.

Cather administers small-group assessments for first- through fourth-year College of Pharmacy students, like Wasson Center for Clinical Skills assessments. She also teaches classes on over-the-counter medications and Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) courses where first-year pharmacy students learn the values and behaviors expected in pharmacy practice, like how to talk to patients and take medication history.

Valuing interprofessionalism

Through her time as an advisor for the SOAR Clinic pharmacy students, Cather describes how she has become more familiar with several physicians who teach in the College of Medicine.

“It’s nice to get to know them, their viewpoints and rationale for treatment,” says Cather. “I think the way the faculty works together is special. They’re always looking out for what’s best for the students.”

Whether students are in the College of Medicine or College of Pharmacy, Cather has one piece of advice: “Remember that the number one priority, your whole reason for being a physician or pharmacist, is the patient. Always look out for your patient and what’s best for them.”

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