Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Jeanine P. Abrons, PharmD, MS, has received the 2018 College of Pharmacy Award for Teaching Excellence.

Abrons is a clinical assistant professor and director of student pharmacist global activities in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. She is an educator, international health professional, innovator, writer, editor, and entrepreneur. Her practice and research focus is on global health and underserved populations, and she is a point person in the college for global health initiatives.

Abrons is a positive, versatile, and dedicated educator, according to her current and former students, colleagues, and college leaders. “So very often, I find Jeanine working one-on-one with students to help them become the best versions of themselves,” said faculty colleague Mary Ray. “She challenges them, mentors them, and cares for them.”

Students usually meet Abrons for the first time during their “orientation” to the program, called Engagement: Professional Skills and Values. This coursework is also sprinkled throughout the first semester. Abrons co-developed and helps deliver the sessions, which help students start their time in the program on the right foot; they learn about the history of the profession, the curriculum, professionalism, their personal strengths, study habits, skill development (e.g. health screening techniques) and other topics.

“Dr. Abrons was very welcoming to all of the incoming students, and her warmth really made me feel a part of the college,” said Eesha Patel, 2020 PharmD Candidate. 

Students said Abrons has helped them discover, set, and reach personal goals through close mentorship.

Jasmine Mangrum, 2019 PharmD/MPH candidate, spent part of last year in Romania advocating for pharmacists to be a bigger part of the country’s smoking cessation efforts. She was one of 16 UI Fulbright students and the first-ever from the College of Pharmacy. “When I thought about applying for the U.S. Student Fulbright Program, Dr. Abrons was the only one who gave me the confidence to apply,” Mangrum said. “She sees potential in me and that gives me so much motivation to do great things and make her proud.”

“She always keeps students at the center of her activities,” said Ray, noting her heavy workload. When Abrons was accepted into Venture School and Faculty Innovators Training, she invited Mangrum to join her. Abrons also helped recent PharmD graduate Anh Luong reach her goals of publishing a scientific paper and gaining leadership skills.

“She is just as focused on helping her students achieve their goals as she is in achieving her own,” added Ashleigh Wallace, Class of 2019. “She coached me in grant writing and opened doors to working with underserved populations that met my criteria when I didn’t know where to start.

“I know there are many more students she is working with, and yet it always seems she always has time to meet and discuss my projects. Her mentorship is one of the main reasons I have enjoyed my time at the College of Pharmacy so much,” Wallace added.

Her mentorship is one of the main reasons I have enjoyed my time at the College of Pharmacy so much.

“Her willingness to invest in the welfare of individual students—although it is clearly instinctive to her—is truly remarkable,” added recent PharmD graduate Joanna Rusch. “As one of her unofficial mentees, I know she will do everything in her power to help me succeed. In fact, she is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to stimulate student growth.”

Abrons created and has led a yearly international rotation for pharmacy students to study natural medicine in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica since 2011. When Dominica was struck by a devastating hurricane in late 2017, it was not feasible for students to travel there. Yet Abrons did not cancel the rotation: a fact that impressed her students.

“Dr. Abrons took it upon herself to simulate the international experience, which made it possible for me to gain exposure to global health concepts in a unique and memorable way. She was enthusiastic about still creating a meaningful learning experience for us,” Rusch said.

Abrons teaches that "global" means both local and international. She trains students to prevent and screen for chronic diseases, boost health literacy, and conduct clinical research. She is a faculty advisor and co-director of the UI Mobile Clinic and serves on editorial boards for multiple pharmacy journals.