Twenty-one years of professional experience has made Stacey Curtis, Pharm.D., a champion of community pharmacy. Inspired by her own community pharmacist who was always a phone call away, and her aunt, who balanced her responsibilities as both a pharmacist and mother, Curtis achieved both goals.
Curtis, a clinical assistant professor, has won Mother of the Year every year since 1999 when she had her first child, but in 2018–19 she’s added the title UF College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year.
There’s a lot Curtis has learned from her patients over the years that she instills in her students. “The most important thing I’ve learned is you don’t know where people are in their life, in their home, their health or in their family,” she said. “I am here to teach students how to be a patient’s advocate and to remind them of the important impact a pharmacist can make within their community: helping people live healthier, happier lives.”
UF College of Pharmacy Dean Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., singled out Curtis’s teaching excellence in the first-year skills lab. “Walking into skills lab as a first-year student can be overwhelming; however, when students are met with Curtis’s vibrant smile and contagious enthusiasm, they are put at ease, and their confidence in learning the material is bolstered.”
Johnson additionally mentioned Curtis’s “Advanced Topics in Community Pharmacy Practice” class. The elective course includes field trips to entrepreneurial pharmacies for each campus, and “Swamp Tank” (based on the show “Shark Tank”) where students present their entrepreneurial business ideas to an external panel of potential investors. In this year’s iteration, she added an escape room-type adventure titled “Escape Puzzle Box,” which allowed students to find the “secret to opening their own pharmacy.”
Curtis is a life-long Floridian. Before coming to the UF College of Pharmacy, she was a pharmacist at a Winn Dixie in Tallahassee, a Target in Jacksonville, Best Drugs in Newberry/Trenton and continues her community pharmacy career at a Walmart in Gainesville.
Curtis uses her experience to help the next generation of pharmacists hone their patience, empathy and understanding. “I’ve learned to always be open-minded and care about more than just the pills patients put in their mouth, but to really care about their whole well-being.”
The Teacher of the Year award recognizes excellence, innovation and effectiveness in teaching. As recipient of this award, Curtis 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. Curtis will use the title “Paul Doering Teaching Excellence Professor” during the upcoming academic year.
Some words from her students:
“As a student it is important that I feel understood by my professors. Dr. Curtis is kind and compassionate, and she establishes a connection with all her students. Before taking one of our exams, Dr. Curtis stopped by our classroom just to say she was thinking of us, and she also wanted to wish us all the best. For some of us that is the only positive force we have at that moment and it means something to us. She is always excited to be in the classroom with us and her excitement is contagious and it makes the classroom a happier, more positive environment.”
–Hemita Bhagwandass, first-year pharmacy student at the Gainesville campus
“The bonds Dr. Curtis forms with her students is twofold: it enhances students’ knowledge, but it also gives Dr. Curtis the opportunity to mentor students in order to care for their mental and emotional health. As my faculty advisor, Dr. Curtis has helped me on a number of occasions such as, tutoring me through difficult course work, consoling me when my grandparents passed away, and guiding me to establish work-life balance. I personally have referred other students to see her, whether they were going through a difficult time or just needed someone to talk to. Dr. Curtis made time for each of these students and gave them the support they needed. I have witnessed Dr. Curtis go out of her way to ensure that the well-being of a student is her first priority, even if that means she has to forfeit her own time.
–Angelina Vascimini, fourth-year pharmacy student at the Gainesville campus