Compassion and excellence guide Dr. Lihui Yuan to the 2023-24 Teacher of the Year Award

Lihui Yuan approaches teaching pharmacy students like parenting her four boys — be approachable, show compassion and understanding, and maintain a warm heart. These qualities were inherited from her parents, and she is now passing them down to her students as the 2023-24 University of Florida College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Lihui Yuan Teacher of the Year

Yuan won the award for the second time in four years. She attributes her success to the continual refinement of her teaching methods and the use of analogies to explain challenging concepts to her students.

“Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and every time I see a student grasp a difficult concept or achieve something special, it brings me great pride,” said Yuan, Pharm.D., Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of pharmacodynamics. “Winning the Teacher of the Year Award left me speechless. There are so many great faculty in the UF College of Pharmacy, and I am continually watching and learning from them.”

Yuan’s teaching schedule provides her with ample opportunities to engage with students. In the college’s Pharm.D. program, she instructs five significant courses, including two pathophysiology and patient assessment classes and three patient care courses. Her lectures delve into subjects like renal disease, endocrinology and cardiovascular conditions.

During the 2023-24 academic year, Yuan will record 40 video lectures and dedicate many hours to live teaching in the classroom. Managing the demanding schedule necessitates her use of a color-coded spreadsheet to meticulously stay organized and on top of her teaching responsibilities.

Students appreciate her careful attention to detail and her uncanny ability to break down complex topics that resonate with their understanding. More than a half-dozen of them wrote letters in support of Yuan’s Teacher of the Year award nomination — praising her teaching style and caring nature.

“My strong connection with students stems from the fact that I was a student in the program not too long ago,” Yuan said. “I grasp the challenges, concerns and achievements associated with student life, and I actively seek ways to provide them with the most effective support.”

Having obtained a Ph.D. from UF in 2005 and a Pharm.D. from the UF College of Pharmacy in 2016, Yuan leverages her comprehensive background in basic science and clinical experience to effectively teach challenging subjects to pharmacy students.

Beyond her teaching responsibilities, Yuan contributes to the UF College of Pharmacy in many other ways. She serves on the curriculum committee, takes part in interview days, advises 10 Pharm.D. students, mentors students during advanced pharmacy practice experiences, and holds the role of faculty advisor for the Asian Student Pharmacist Coalition.

“Lihui Yuan embodies the Teacher of the Year award, as a compassionate educator who effortlessly bridges the gap between challenging concepts and student comprehension,” said Peter W. Swaan, Ph.D., M.Pharm., dean of the UF College of Pharmacy. “She is a respected leader among our faculty and inspires our collective pursuit of excellence in teaching. We congratulate her for winning the 2023-24 Teacher of Year Award.”

As the recipient of the UF College of Pharmacy Teacher of the Year Award, Yuan will be recognized at the UF Teacher of the Year events and the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Annual Meeting. She will also be provided discretionary funds from the Paul Doering Excellence in Teaching endowment and an honorarium. In addition, she will use the title “Paul Doering Teaching Excellence Professor,” during the upcoming academic year.

Exemplary Teacher Awards

Three 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.

  • Jessica HustonJessica Huston, Pharm.D., contributes to multiple courses including 2PD and 3PD Skills Lab, Principles of Patient Centered Care, and Patient Care 6. She is dedicated to helping students realize their full potential in becoming excellent pharmacists and patient advocates. She is recognized for her enthusiasm and passion for the profession of pharmacy summarized by one student, “Dr. Huston was very enthusiastic to teach her students and did an amazing job in keeping her students engaged in both her lectures and ALS sessions. She was very quick to answer questions and was always willing to listen to her students’ concerns. It was easy to see she cared about her students succeeding in the course and wanted to make an impact on their future career as a pharmacist.” Additionally, Huston strives to provide accessible research opportunities and exposure to non-traditional pathways to utilize a Pharm.D. degree. She does this by organizing research internships and advising students through the fellowship process.
  • Bradley Phillips – In his time with the college, Bradley Phillips, Pharm.D., has made significant contributions to teaching in Patient Care 3, skills lab, and the Ambulatory Care elective. Nominators praise him for his passion for teaching and for serving as a role model of excellence for ambulatory care practice. In the classroom, Phillips creates a high level of engagement by using simulation-based education or gamification. Examples of active learning strategies include a card-sorting game he developed to help students understand treatment plans for heart failure and the use of a concept map de-construction activity to emphasize over-the-counter cough and cold treatments. During the ambulatory care elective, Phillips and the course team created an immersive diabetes experience where students were provided with a continuous glucose monitor to simulate a day in the life of a diabetic patient as well as caregiver storytelling scenarios. Phillips has continued to develop himself as an effective educator, which is apparent through the great relationships he has made with faculty, staff, and students at the college.
  • Richard Segal Rich Segal, R.Ph., Ph.D., M.S., is best recognized for his excellence in teaching in the first-year courses Principles of Patient-Centered Care and Principles of Evidence-Based Practice. Starting on day one of pharmacy school, his calm demeanor and welcoming and inclusive classroom environment help pave the way for a smooth entry into the Pharm.D. program. Students describe Segal as “very caring and passionate” and praise his “compassion for students and willingness to understand we are students on a challenging journey.”  He strives to drive home the importance of the pharmacist in the medication use system by using case-based instruction, bringing case studies to life with the cases of Katherine and his highly acclaimed role-play of Mr. Hammer. Through the creation of a narrative for the course, Segal helps students grasp the big picture or conceptual framework of the course. As a first-year student said, this course “opened my eyes to the importance of good and caring pharmacists.”