The 2024 Preceptors of the Year

May 21, 2024
2024 Preceptors of the Year - Debbie Nicholson and Cassidy Almada


Preceptors play a critical role in pharmacy serving as mentors and providing practical experience to pharmacy students. 

In recognition of the invaluable work preceptors do to facilitate the transition from classroom learning to professional practice, the R. Ken Coit College of Pharmacy honors individual preceptors for demonstrating excellence in teaching and serving as a role model. 

The awards given this 2023-2024 academic year are the Kevin and Cindy Boesen Preceptor of the Year and the Carl and Kathryn Labbe Rookie Preceptor of the Year. Nominations for the awards are submitted by current PharmD students and reviewed by the Experiential Education Team. 

Preceptor of the Year

Debbie Nicholson receives the 2024 Preceptor of the Year Award.

The Kevin and Cindy Boesen Preceptor of the Year is Debbie Nicholson, PharmD. Dr. Nicolson serves as the pharmacy director at Sonoran Behavioral Health Hospital and is also a 2012 alumnus of the Coit College of Pharmacy. 

“It is a joy to mentor and teach the next generation of pharmacists. When we teach, we learn ourselves how to be better pharmacists. There is always something that I can learn from my students as they continue to learn from me as well. It is an honor to be recognized as the 2024 Preceptor of the Year.”

Dr. Nicholson has been a preceptor for six years and precepts for approximately 25 students each year. While on rotation, she takes the complex topics of behavioral health and turns them into something positive and educational. Her methods and approach have been successful as she received several nominations for her efforts and guidance as an exemplary role model.

An excerpt from Dr. Nicholson’s nomination materials reads: “Dr. Nicholson exemplified interprofessional team collaboration with the staff at Sonora. She also worked collaboratively with the nursing and physician staff to improve the quality of patient care and to optimize the use of medications in patients. There were several instances where she would stop what she was doing to educate a provider to help them make the best decision for the patient. She made it a point to be a part of the team at the hospital, and often was at the center of discussions regarding patient care. She also participated with other medical disciplines at the hospital, and would often take in nursing and medical students for a day so they could better understand the role of a pharmacist and their key place in the healthcare team.” 

Rookie Preceptor of the Year

Cassidy Almada receives the 2024 Rookie Preceptor of the Year Award.

The Carl and Kathryn Labbe Rookie Preceptor of the Year is Cassidy Almada, PharmD. Dr. Almada is a site manager at Genoa Healthcare Pharmacy and is also a 2021 Coit College of Pharmacy graduate. 

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. In my role as a preceptor, I make it a point to make sure my students know that I care. While rotations are exciting and rewarding, they can also be a very challenging time in our academic career. Hours of clinical work, studying for the NAPLEX, applying to and interviewing for residencies, and wondering where we will end up after graduation can be very stressful. This is why I believe participating in this program is so valuable. It is so important to encourage our students to find a work-life balance during their time on rotation, and helping them develop that skills now will benefit them tremendously once they are licensed working pharmacists. I also take time to cater my rotation to each student's needs and interests. Even though Genoa is a community pharmacy, there is always something to be learned from a clinical, compliance, adherence, or leadership aspect. Being a preceptor for this program has allowed me to do all of this and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to mentor our future pharmacists.”  

Dr. Almada said she is so grateful to have won this award and loves that she was able to do so alongside one of her very own preceptors who helped shape her into the pharmacist she is today. Giving back was important for Dr. Almada, and now that she is a preceptor she is making sure to provide the same valuable experiences for the next generation of pharmacists. An excerpt from Dr. Almada’s nomination materials reads: 

“I had Cassidy as a preceptor while I was eagerly awaiting the results of Phase I of the ASHP Match. I had my sights set on residency training. Not only was Cassidy incredibly supportive of my pursuit of residency, but she was also very understanding that I was not interested in community pharmacy. This posed a unique situation for her as a preceptor given that Genoa is a community pharmacy setting. Cassidy went out of her way to ensure that I was still learning every day, even in a practice site I likely wouldn't encounter again. She gave me numerous projects relating to regulations and compliance, which will have a lasting impact on my understanding of pharmacy law. She also sought out many opportunities for me to build and apply my clinical knowledge of behavioral health. Any time I had a patient consult or a question from a doctor, Cassidy would allow me to handle it and then debrief with the information afterward. She constantly quizzed me on medications I didn't have a lot of experience with like LAIs and REMS medications. By the end of my rotation, I was consistently scoring highly on practice NAPLEX quizzes relating to behavioral health. Cassidy was an excellent teacher because she tailored her rotation to my needs and interests, and has truly helped me develop my knowledge as a future pharmacist.”


Our preceptors serve as mentors, provide practical experience to pharmacy students and ensure a strong future for the pharmacy field. Interested in becoming a preceptor? Visit our webpage to learn more about the process and connect with our Experiential Education Team.