In only four short years since he graduated from the UA College of Pharmacy, Matthew Bertsch has earned his stripes as a preceptor.
Bertsch, director of pharmacy at Sun Life Family Center in Casa Grande, was recognized as the college's Rookie Preceptor of the Year for 2016.
The award did not come as a surprise, though, to many who know Bertsch. Since his earliest years as a pharmacy student, he demonstrated the qualities of a great preceptor. In 2011, he showed signs of leadership when he co-founded and led the COP jazz ensemble.
The young band leader was confident, passionate and never shy of innovation as he pursued his goal of making a positive impact on the world.
"I want to bring people together" said Bertsch in 2011 as he reflected on his hopes for the future.
Bringing people together is still one of Bertsch's objectives and the PharmD graduate continues to inspire with his devotion for helping others.
In fact, one of the students Bertsch taught states, "With confidence I can say that Dr. Bertsch was the best preceptor/pharmacist that i've ever had throughout my entire APPE rotations."
According to one of his nominators, he has demonstrated all the qualities required to excel as an educator. His dedication, communication skills and passion for his job, combined with his genuine interest in his patients and students, make him an extremely valuable preceptor.
"In my opinion," says the nominator, "a teacher who actually cares about and is interested in the education of their students is an excellent teacher. Because of all the options available to me, I felt that I got the most experience of being a pharmacist from this rotation site."
Rookie Preceptor of the Year Award recipients must demonstrate excellence serving as role models and Bertsch has consistently been an outstanding example for his community.
One of his students shares, "Dr. Bertsch did an excellent job getting a feel for a certain patient and showed interest in his health. Dr. Bertsch asked the patient about blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels and talked about typical goals with the patient on a level that was easy to understand and sparked an interest in the patient to start caring for himself. The patient was so comfortable with Dr. Bertsch that he even told him about his drug addiction. I felt as though Dr. Bertsch didn't judge the patient or sound condecending to him at all."
When asked about the award, which he received in May, Bertsch is passionate about giving credit to his co-workers and students.
"When I was recognized for the award, I was humbled. It was one of those things where you don't do it for the award, but you like someone to tell you that you are offering a service to students that the students find worthwhile. To be recognized with the award means we are offering students something that they genuinely appreciate and that they are walking out of here with a great learning experience. It's good to be recognized but I don't consider it my award, I consider it an award for all of Sun Life Family Center. I think an important point to make is that I don't do this alone. A lot of it is recognition for what Sun Life does for the students, not just what I do."
Bertsch also took the time to emphasize how a good working environment is crucial for the professional development of students doing rotations.
"One of the characteristics of our workplace is that we appreciate out students. It's important that they are treated as staff members and not treated like guests. I think you would find that most of the students who have come here felt like they were members of the team, not just somebody who's coming in for six weeks and then leaving."
Students are given the opportunity to experience real world situations under Bertsch, and he believes students will play an important part in Sun Life Family Center's future.
"We are looking to start a residency program, and for us it's a lot about finding newer and more innovative ways to interact with providers. We are trying to find more ways to integrate pharmacy into medical practice, as well. For students, they get to help us build these programs and test them while being at the forefront of the changes that we make."
First photo: Matthew Bertsch, Rookie Preceptor of the Year, 2016
Second Photo: Bertsch, COP jazz ensemble leader, 2011
Home page photo: Bertsch as a graduating student, 2012
Story by Miguel Mayagoitia, communications assistant