Shannon Miller used to snicker at her father’s idea of her becoming a fourth-generation pharmacist. She gently reminded him her plans were set: she would join the New York Rockettes and become a pediatrician. Now Miller, Pharm.D., a clinical associate professor — and fourth-generation pharmacist — has been selected as the University of Florida College of Pharmacy 2017-18 Teacher of the Year.
Countless hours observing her grandfather and father connect with patients: motivating and inspiring them, has driven her to form connections not only with patients of her own, but with student pharmacists. “I want my teaching to be excellent so that each student feels my passion and infused energy,” Miller said. “I realize students want to see the value of time invested, and they tend to focus intently on the finish line. I aim to create a contagious enthusiasm and shift focus away from the finish line, and more toward the journey.”
UF College of Pharmacy Dean Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., recognized Miller for her classroom achievements noting her many teaching innovations. “She is well known for her ‘bench-to-bedside’ teaching of pathophysiology and pharmacology where clinical relevance is integrated into these foundational sciences,” Johnson said. “Noteworthy is the recent development of interactive lecture videos where students ‘choose their own adventure’ in managing difficult patients.”
In the interactive lecture videos, students indicate how they would handle various situations. Scenes that follow correlate with the student’s choice, highlighting best practices when tackling delicate patientcare situations.
Additionally, Miller invites all her second- and third-year students to her clinical site to practice their skills under supervision. Students have to drive a long distance to participate, so she knows she’s successfully spread enthusiasm when they ask to participate again.
She aims to keep an open personality, which sets students at ease, allowing them to open up about their experiences. “I am not afraid to use humor in class. I share embarrassing clinic stories and encourage students to share their own,” she said.
The Teacher of the Year award recognizes excellence, innovation and effectiveness in teaching. As recipient of this award, Miller is also bestowed with the Paul Doering Excellence in Teaching Professor award. She will receive discretionary funds from the endowment as well as an honorarium. Miller will use the title “Paul Doering Teaching Excellence Professor” during the upcoming academic year.
Miller has a surplus of grateful students. Here are some words from her biggest fans:
“Dr. Miller is a rare teacher, pharmacist and friend. She believes in both this profession and the power of helping others. She is loyal to this school and to its many students. She is a motivator and a champion to those who struggle to see their own future. She does not consider her job finished until every one of her students crosses the stage to receive their diploma. She is one of the most caring individuals I have ever had the opportunity of knowing,” wrote Kaitlyn Bice, Pharm.D., a pharmacy resident at Lakeland Regional Health.
“Dr. Miller’s outstanding compassion and kind-heartedness are qualities that set her apart as my favorite professor. I will always be indebted to her for all that she has taught me and how she has motivated me to become a better student pharmacist. In fact, it is because of Dr. Miller that I am currently applying for a residency to further my learning. As I hope the above examples demonstrate, Dr. Miller wholly supports the mission of the college to “foster lifelong learning,” wrote Luke Pompos, a fourth-year Pharm.D. student.