Matthew Walliser has been recognized for his efforts to mentor a young pharmacist.
Walliser, who practises in the pharmacy at St. Joseph’s Hospital and in the community, is the first-ever recipient of the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy and Nutrition’s Preceptor of the Year Award.
The award is presented to a pharmacist who has made a significant contribution to the education of pharmacy students in the college’s experiential learning program.
The nominee should have an interest in student learning, excellent teaching skills, a willingness to make time for the student, knowledge and ability to describe their approach to thinking, an ability to provide direction and feedback, flexibility and accommodation to student learning, organizational skills, and an ability to provide helpful feedback and a thorough assessment.
He was nominated by Alexis Dryden, who was a pharmacy student at the hospital. Walliser was Dryden’s primary preceptor.
“We have several students throughout the year, and we just rotate through who the primary preceptor is,” said Walliser. “Whoever is doing the more relevant things to that student’s learning is the one who takes the student with them to run with the physicians and to interview patients.”
Adding to the significance is that he won the award in its first year. He was surprised when he was informed he had won.
“A lot of pharmacists have ties to the school, and it’s important to most practising pharmacists here to make sure our school is providing the highest quality of education,” said Walliser.
There are so many good people out there mentoring students, he said, and a lot of good deserving candidates are out there.
Walliser believes the award speaks volumes of the department he works in at the hospital, and he said he shares the award with fellow hospital pharmacists Allison Folbar and Shannon Klotz, who also spent time mentoring Dryden and other students. He also paid tribute to technicians Donna George, Trisha Lee-Karcha and Danielle Fleury.
In her nomination form, Dryden praised Walliser for his patience and willingness to spend time focused on her learning needs.
“Matthew continually encouraged me and gave me confidence even when I felt it wasn’t my best,” she said. “This encouragement lifted my confidence in my own knowledge of therapeutics and patient interaction abilities.”
Walliser was able to discern which questions that warranted a more in-depth discussion, she said. It was these discussions that facilitated her learning. Walliser would ask questions in a fashion that assisted her to find the answer on her own, and would also generate more discussion to further her learning on the topic at hand.
“These discussions deepened my knowledge on therapeutics as well as patient interactions.”
One of her fondest memories from the rotation came when she was working with the mental health team at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She was concerned mental health was an area where she did not have much experience, and felt she needed further work. Walliser replied that the hospital does not see a great deal of mental health patients, and so he set up a day for her to spend with a mental health nurse and psychiatrist.
It was an eye-opening experience for her.
Throughout her rotation in Estevan, Dryden found Walliser’s patience and willingness to spend time on her learning needs to be “exceptional.”
“During the beginning of my rotation, Matthew asked what I wanted to focus on this rotation and what I most wanted to get out of it. Even though this is a required item, I feel that Matthew went above and beyond any preceptor I have previously had.”
Walliser graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 2015, and has been working at the hospital since 2016. He said he received a lot of excellent guidance from experienced pharmacists.
“I actually came here for one of my rotations, and you really learn from people who make time to teach you and to show you things,” he said. “That sunk in with me, and so I try to make that a priority to give students the time that they need to learn and not just throw them into tasks or research projects.”
Since he was a student recently, he believes he can relate to the students in a better fashion, and perhaps know how to meet their needs.