Richard Segal splits his teaching career into two periods: B.T.B.L and A.T.B.L., or before team-based learning and after team-based learning. “I was burned out on the old way of teaching,” he said.
But when the University of Florida College of Pharmacy implemented a new team-based learning curriculum in 2015, it reinvigorated his zeal for teaching. “It changed the fundamental relationship I have with students; I get live feedback, I can confirm understanding and students learn from one another,” Segal said.
Over the last six years, Segal has embraced the new model, introduced innovative learning techniques to the classroom and earned admiration from students, making him the college’s 2020-21 Teacher of the Year.
Segal, Ph.D., R.Ph., M.S., a professor of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, teaches the first class Pharm.D. students ever attend: Principles of Patient-Centered Care. In the class, he presents patient cases, which has earned him notoriety with students; they laud him for his role-playing ability — specifically the part of one “Mr. Hammer.” “He really had me convinced that I was no longer speaking with Dr. Segal. He knew exactly what to say to get us asking the right questions,” one student wrote in an evaluation.
Role playing allows students to realistically work through the pharmacists’ patient care process. They collect drug therapy-relevant information, assess the data to identify and prioritize problems, then develop a therapeutic plan to address them and create a monitoring plan. Finally, students implement the plan, monitor it and follow up.
“Mr. Hammer” is so convincing because Segal’s source material is real. As part of a five-year grant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health, his research team trains community health workers to improve medication adherence with culturally diverse populations. Through this research project, Segal learns of patients’ attitudes and experiences to form and evolve “Mr. Hammer” from year to year.
“Physicians and pharmacists live in an information vacuum with these patients,” Segal said. The patients will often not share how they’re actually using their prescribed medications with those wearing a white coat. In many cases, they may be self-medicating as a substitute or as a complement to their prescribed medication.
Segal’s team determined that community health workers are the key to getting through to this patient population. “They have shared life experiences with the patients, they live in the same community, they go to the same churches and they walk in the same shoes as the people we’re trying to help,” he said.
Segal’s research team trains community health workers, in a team-based learning exercise, to gather information from patients. With five or six community health workers in each team, they teach each other with the help of a facilitator and one of Segal’s Pharm.D. students who role plays as a patient.
Community health workers then meet with actual patients to collect drug therapy-relevant information. They assess this data to identify and prioritize problems, then develop a therapeutic plan with a pharmacist. When they present the plan to patients, they get live feedback and can confirm understanding.
In one study with 33 hypertensive and/or diabetic patients, community health workers were able to address blood pressure and diabetic medication adherence barriers, which included forgetfulness, adverse effects and knowledge concerns. Care plans were enacted and 75.6% of the barriers related to antihypertensive medications and 63.9% of the barriers related to antidiabetic medications were resolved.
Segal’s academic endeavors are many, having previously served as chair of the department of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy, associate dean for faculty affairs and currently as the director of graduate studies in his department. “But teaching Pharm.D. students is by far my favorite part of the job,” he said. “Everything else pales in comparison.”
Dean Julie Johnson, in recognizing Segal as the 2020-21 Teacher of the Year, commended him for his teaching excellence. “Starting pharmacy school, especially in the time of COVID, can be unnerving, however Dr. Segal’s calm demeanor and welcoming classroom environment in the first block of the first year puts students at ease,” she said. “Students praise Dr. Segal for creating an inclusive learning environment where all views and experiences are welcomed without any worries of judgment or dismissal.”
The Teacher of the Year award recognizes excellence, innovation and effectiveness in teaching. As recipient of this award, Segal is also bestowed with the Paul Doering Excellence in Teaching Professor award. He will receive discretionary funds from the endowment as well as an honorarium. Segal will use the title “Paul Doering Teaching Excellence Professor” during the upcoming academic year.
Exemplary Teacher Awards
Four faculty members won the Exemplary Teacher Award. These winners are Teacher of the Year finalists who were judged by the curriculum committee to have exemplary teaching as evidenced by a superior teaching portfolio.
Christina DeRemer, Pharm.D.
DeRemer has made significant contributions to student learning in multiple courses, including the 1PD Principles of Systems-Based Practice, second-year skills labs, the second-year Patient Care 4 and 5 courses and the anticoagulation elective she developed. DeRemer makes a positive impact on her students by using an inquiry-based approach to instruction and modeling passionate, evidence-based, collaborative practice skills. Students praise her engaging “rapid-fire” style of teaching and appreciate the high level of clinical expertise she brings to the classroom, serving as a role model of excellence for ambulatory pharmacy practice. Noticing that students tend to struggle with writing subjective, objective, assessment and plan, or SOAP notes, DeRemer created a scaffolding SOAP note activity for second-year students. The activity is complete with drop-down menus to reinforce standard clinical language. DeRemer has also been active in mentoring learners in the clinical research process, working with over 25 students and residents in the last few years.
W. Cary Mobley, Ph.D.
Mobley’s positive influence on learners is evident throughout many courses: from the first-year Drug Delivery Systems and Patient Care 1 courses to the second-year Sterile Compounding and third-year Patient Care 6 courses. Integration is a big emphasis of Mobley’s teaching, and he uses hyperlinked lecture materials to help students form connections with related subject matter both between and within courses. He is well recognized for his innovative use of the ANKI electronic flash card system which employs the principles of spaced learning to help students master key concepts of Drug Delivery Systems. In addition, Mobley has been one of the college’s Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process, or PPCP, champions. He has implemented thoughtful application of the PPCP in each of his courses, using this process to reinforce concepts of clinical reasoning and development of problem-solving skills.
Robin Moorman Li, Pharm.D.
Moorman Li inspires students to learn through use of effective “real-life” active learning sessions, with a primary focus on the development of clinical reasoning skills. Whether it is walking first-year students through the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process, or helping third-year students navigate complex pain management cases, Moorman Li is there to expertly coach the students in the development of their problem-solving and clinical reasoning skills. Moorman Li has an avid interest in coaching, and along with completion of the Take Courage Coaching program, she has obtained board certification as a Health and Wellness coach. She readily applies the coaching techniques not only with pain patients in her clinical practice, but also with students in the classroom to help improve their self-efficacy in conquering complex topics. Moorman Li is highly committed to continuous quality improvement in her teaching, and she engages with student focus groups to design and implement changes in her courses, such as shorter, themed lectures.
Joshua Pullo, Pharm.D.
Pullo’s experience as a community pharmacy manager allows him to bring real-world principles of practice, management and leadership into Patient Care 1, Practice Management, and first-year skills lab courses. Pullo optimizes the learning environment through effective use of technology such as Socrative to create interesting and memorable experiences for our students. Grounded in teaching and learning techniques such as retrieval practice and instant feedback, Pullo expertly utilizes Socrative to guide students through self-care scenarios and the well received LGBTQ material in Patient Care 5. In addition to his innovation in the classroom, Pullo is admired for his continued commitment to promote self-development of our students in the areas of professionalism and leadership. Students describe Pullo as “the pharmacist that every student should aspire to be,” “one of the few professors who understands that being professional doesn’t mean that you can’t also be who you are,” and “truly a gift!”