Thursday, August 31, 2023

The University of Iowa (UI) College of Pharmacy is proud to welcome Kathryn "Kate" Smith as its first associate professor of Instruction. 

Smith has a number of goals for her new position, including building relationships with colleagues and student pharmacists and providing support to other faculty members who want to incorporate evidence-based teaching practices into their courses.

Kathryn Smith

Within her role, she will serve as coordinator of Synthesis, a new component of the Applications of Pharmacy Practice course series.  Students will apply previously learned concepts to solve complex case-based and other real-world challenges relevant to pharmacy practice.

“In Synthesis, I hope students can make connections between things learned throughout the curriculum and begin to think, feel, and act more like a pharmacist,” Smith said. “When faced with a complex patient on clinical rotations or in practice, I hope our student pharmacists can say, ‘Well, I’ve never seen this before, but I know what questions I need to ask and what resources to use so I can develop a care plan to help the patient feel better.’”

Though the initial concept for Synthesis was drafted by a working group of faculty and staff, Dr. Smith has been hired to envision, create, and operationalize a detailed curriculum, or lesson plan, for the entire Synthesis series in collaboration with all faculty.

“Kate’s knowledge of curricular design and her experience from two previous pharmacy programs will bring new learning opportunities with a fresh perspective to our students,” said Associate Dean Mary Ray.

Jay Currie, chair and clinical professor in the Pharmacy Practice and Science Department, added that the College views Synthesis as building upon students’ current knowledge and skills and enabling them to graduate with greater abilities in clinical problem-solving and decision-making. 

“Our graduates are highly sought after now, and we view these advances in our curriculum as increasing their desirability even further,” he said. “Dr. Smith’s abilities and experience add significantly to our faculty and will complement our faculty members’ ongoing commitment to delivering an exceptional education to our students.”

In all her teaching, Smith is intentional about incorporating the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process, clinical communication skills, and professional development.

Smith, who came to the UI College of Pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy, received her Doctor of Pharmacy with a Leadership Emphasis from the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy and completed a PGY1 Community Pharmacy Residency with Supervalu/Cub Pharmacy.

She was inspired to enter the profession because she’s “always been a mix of practical and curious.”

She explained, “Being a pharmacist seemed like something I could do no matter where I lived (practical) that would allow me to ask lots of questions about how medications impact people’s lives (curious).”

Smith wanted to be a teacher before she ever wanted to become a pharmacist. So, when she saw a job posting for a teaching-focused position within the UI College of Pharmacy, she knew she had to apply, especially because her husband grew up in Iowa City and they have family in town.

“During pharmacy school, I had amazing mentors who encouraged me to pursue a faculty role,” Smith said. “I’m starting my 10th year as a pharmacy professor. In my previous faculty roles, I’ve had clinical practice responsibilities as well as teaching responsibilities. While I enjoyed being in clinic, I love thinking about how to make student experiences in the classroom more meaningful and more relevant to practice.”

She’s certainly making an impact in that area, as evidenced by the awards she’s received, such as the Innovation in Teaching Award and the Emerging Teaching Scholar Award, both from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP).

Smith has also developed several required and elective leadership courses for pharmacy students and hosted informal leadership book clubs with pharmacy faculty across the country. She’s an AACP active member and serves on Currents of Pharmacy Teaching and Learning's editorial board.