It’s not enough that PharmD students at the UI College of Pharmacy have excellent faculty members and amazing technology and labs in which to learn hands-on pharmaceutical skills. They also need someone to manage all necessary behind-the-scenes details to ensure successful educational delivery. That someone is Vicki Kee.
Kee, PharmD, MSHI, BCPS, is this year’s College of Pharmacy Staff of the Year Award honoree. She is only the second recipient to receive the award, which recognizes a staff member who demonstrates a commitment to excellence through an outstanding set of accomplishments and contributions that significantly benefit the College of Pharmacy.
“I have often said that learning does not occur in chaos and Vicki’s organizational skills have created an environment in which students learn and thrive,” said faculty member Jeff Reist, who supervises Kee as director of the Pharmacy Practice Laboratory.
As the instructional services specialist for the Pharmacy Practice Learning Center (PPLC), Kee works closely with the faculty members who teach pharmacy skills to Doctor of Pharmacy students. Learning such skills ensures that students know how to function in a community or hospital pharmacy, including how to best interact with patients, provide immunizations, gown and garb, and the like.
The faculty members rely on Kee’s organization and planning skills, as well as her mastery of the state-of-the-art technology behind the center’s simulated practice environments.
The center’s team faced “tremendous challenges” in recent years, Reist said. One was the transition to a newer curriculum for professional students. The second was transitioning to the new pharmacy building, which opened for the spring semester 2020. The new College of Pharmacy building’s performance-based assessments rely upon complex video and audio monitoring and recording software to assess students who work in small rooms providing care to patients who are actors.
Thirdly, shortly after classes began that year, the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic hit, requiring students to avoid campus. The transition to online learning was unexpected.
“Vicki’s knowledge, experience, and resilience came through to not only adapt to these changes, but to find innovative and better ways of teaching,” Reist said.
He noted that the team coordinates five courses for students. “In addition to managing multiple responsibilities, Vicki understands the unique needs of the various members of our college faculty, staff, and students. … She is always planning for several weeks ahead, which is crucial for success in teaching pharmacy practice skills due to the multitude of supplies and equipment needed.”
Kee also manages supplies and equipment for student groups’ community outreach activities, Reist added.
A joint recommendation letter for the award also came from college faculty members Michelle Fravel and Laura Knockel. “She is the one consistent voice connecting our courses,” they noted.
They said “her attention to detail is spectacular,” and that “she goes beyond the job description and reviews the course materials as she prepares them, catching errors and recommending changes to make the activity more successful.”
In recent years, Kee pursued a master’s degree in Health Informatics. “She immediately applied that knowledge and developed an elective, ‘Health Informatics Essentials’ for third-year pharmacy students,” the joint letter said.
“Vicki’s sense of responsibility and commitment to excellence are notable,” Fravel and Knockel said.
“We simply would not be able to be as effective in delivering our courses without Vicki’s support.”
Kee has worked for the college for 19 years, including nine years as a clinical assistant professor teaching drug information and therapeutics, and ten with the Iowa Drug Information Service (IDIS).
She is also an adjunct assistant professor for the College.