At the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in Oro Valley near Tucson, pharmacist Amber Pate-Mozroll offers a welcoming hello to customers and asks them all about their day. For Pate-Mozroll, pharmacy is more than prescriptions and pills.
“It’s much more than just being a pharmacist and talking about just pharmacy,” Pate-Mozroll says. “I ask them how their kids are doing. I ask them what kind of fun things they have planned for the day. I really feel like I treat them as my family.”
Pate-Mozroll is more than the average friendly neighborhood pharmacist. Her unique ability to inspire and motivate student pharmacists led to her being selected to receive the 2013 Preceptor of the Year Award from the College of Pharmacy.
Pate-Mozroll has been a preceptor for seven years, taking students under her wing for their introductory and advanced pharmacy practice rotations.
“I really learned a lot from my rotation with Dr. Pate,” says Sunny Kim, Class of 2012 alumna who nominated Pate-Mozroll for the award. “It really exceeded all my expectations. This was one of the best rotation sites to call home.”
Pate-Mozroll was in the eighth grade when she decided pharmacy was her calling. The pharmacist’s role in helping others cemented her choice.
“I love the ability of a community pharmacist, specifically, to be a friend to the patients who come in and be a trusted part of the community,” Pate-Mozroll says.
During her years as a student at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Pate-Mozroll worked as an intern in a retail/community pharmacy. When she graduated in 2005, she continued her work with community pharmacies. A year after graduation she was promoted to a pharmacy manager and became a preceptor for the university. Pate-Mozroll moved to Wal-Mart four years ago and is now responsible for managing business operations, profit and volume at the Oro Valley store.
Pate-Mozroll’s concern for patients goes beyond the checkout counter. She recalls the countless times she has consoled a patient diagnosed with cancer with a hug or shared tears.
“You can see it in their faces that they are so distraught,” Pate-Mozroll says. “You never know if you are going to be the one person who is the only person that day to spend time with them. I treat them as I would like my grandparents to be treated.”
It is this human factor that drives her work, and what she tries hardest to teach her students.
“The number one thing I want them to know how to do and do well is counseling the patients,” says Pate-Mozroll.
Student pharmacists at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market work under Pate-Mozroll’s supervision. They fill prescriptions and shadow the pharmacy technicians. Students are also expected to explain the prescribed medications and ask specific questions to make sure the patient will understand and take the medications as prescribed.
“The way she [Pate-Mozroll] explains medications to patients--she doesn’t dumb it down,” says current student pharmacist Monica Boomer, Class of 2015. “Sometimes it’s really easy to get stuck in using small words so patients understand what you’re talking about. But it’s not that you need to use small words; you just need to use small concepts. That way people can understand what’s going on in their body and understand what the medication does and how that pertains to their life.”
In addition to her work with UA, Pate-Mozroll is an adjunct faculty member at Pima Community College and sits on its advisory committee for the Pharmacy Technology Program.
She also teaches a class on drug therapy, a pharmacology course that is required for prospective pharmacy technicians. Pate-Mozroll tries to interject her experiences with the preceptor program to inspire her students to pursue roles beyond that of the pharmacy technician.
Pate-Mozroll enjoys the success she has experienced as a pharmacy manager, preceptor and teacher. But giving that hug to a patient who needs it at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is primary.
“I've very happy where I’m at. Being attached to my customers--I don’t think there’s anywhere else I want to go.”
Story by Isaac Cox, student communications assistant
Home page photo, taken by Isaac Cox, includes Pate-Mozroll with two of her former students.