Annual Preceptor Appreciation Event Spreads Timely Knowledge

The School of Pharmacy recognizes its valued partners and offers a forum for informative and vital exchanges.

By Raissa Batakji

Warning about how the COVID-19 pandemic has “put antimicrobial stewardship on the backburner,” Dr. Chahine gave an overview of the impact of antimicrobial resistance on healthcare, and the vital role and training of pharmacists in this field.
P4 Preceptor of the Year, Dr. Michael Liebl (L), and P3 Preceptor of the Year LAU alumna Dr. Lea Skayem (R), were announced as the 2020 awardees.
For 2019, LAU alumna Dr. Hiba Najem (L) won the P3 Preceptor of the Year award, while Dr. Alex Rogers won the P4 Preceptor of the Year award.

The School of Pharmacy (SOP) at LAU held its first virtual Annual Preceptor Appreciation Event on December 3 to recognize the Preceptors of the Year in Lebanon and the US for their valuable contributions to the education and training of LAU pharmacy students.

This year, the event also featured an eye-opening presentation on Antimicrobial Resistance and Stewardship in the Era of a Pandemic by LAU alumnus Elias B. Chahine (PharmD ‘06), who is a professor of pharmacy practice at the Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, and a clinical pharmacy specialist at Wellington Regional Medical Center.

Welcoming the attendees, SOP Dean Imad Btaiche thanked the preceptors in Lebanon and Houston for their “exemplary dedication” to the students at a time of uncertainties. On behalf of the university and school administrators, he expressed gratitude for their commitment to “lend a helping hand and a sense of stability to truly exhausted, anxious students.”

In her opening remarks, Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Experiential Education Lamis Karaoui indicated how this event has become a school tradition – despite the hiatus last year due to prevailing circumstances in the country. Touching on highlights of the experiential education program this year, in which a hybrid model combined on-site and remote learning, Dr. Karaoui said that “As we navigated uncharted waters, we had to rely more on our adjunct faculty preceptors for a lot of our activities to ensure that our students meet the program requirements and accreditation standards.”

She then introduced the guest speaker, Dr. Chahine, who gave an overview of the impact of antimicrobial resistance on healthcare, expanding on antibiotic resistant organisms and, accordingly, the crucial need for an antimicrobial stewardship program.

As mentioned by Dr. Chahine, antimicrobial stewardship “is the fiduciary responsibility for all healthcare institutions across the continuum of care,” to improve and measure the appropriate use of antimicrobials, and to promote the optimal antimicrobial regimen as far as the right dosage, route of administration, frequency of administration and duration of therapy is concerned.

“The pandemic has placed antimicrobial stewardship on the backburner,” he warned. For example, he said, a great number of COVID-19 patients who present at the hospital with signs and symptoms of respiratory illnesses are being placed empirically on antibiotics – although analysis shows that several of them are infected with the SARS-COV-2 virus and not bacteria – which could be inappropriate.

Dr. Chahine then expanded on the vital role and training of pharmacists in this field, and on how to promote an effective antimicrobial stewardship program. His presentation was granted one credit for Continuing Pharmacy Education by the Order of Pharmacists in Lebanon.

An extensive Q&A followed, where residents, SOP faculty and pharmacists in attendance engaged in discussions with Dr. Chahine on the topic.

Dr. Karaoui subsequently introduced the recipients of the Preceptor of the Year Award while reading out the testimonials of the students who, in effect, nominate the awardees.

The recipients of the 2020 awards are Dr. Michael Liebl, Director of System Clinical Pharmacy Services and Director of the PGY1 Pharmacy Residency Program for International Graduates, Houston Methodist Hospital, P4 Preceptor of the Year, and LAU alumna Dr. Lea Skayem (BS ‘08; PharmD ’09), owner of Lea Pharmacy in Byblos, Lebanon, P3 Preceptor of the Year.

Referring to a humbling and memorable experience, Dr. Liebl spoke about the importance of being there for the students, not only in terms of professional development, but also in helping them navigate the lockdowns. “I hope we did our best, as the students certainly did theirs.”

In turn, Dr. Skayem declared how she considers LAU to be her family and that she is forever grateful for this recognition. She also extended her thanks to her colleague at the pharmacy, LAU alumna Marilyn Abi Younes (BS ‘17, PharmD ‘18), stating that “this award goes to her too, as she puts in a lot of effort with the trainees.”

For 2019, Dr. Alex Rogers, clinical pharmacy specialist and solid organ transplant at Houston Methodist Hospital won the P4 Preceptor of the Year award, and LAU alumna Dr. Hiba Najem (BS ‘10; PharmD ‘11), chief pharmacist at Keserwan Medical Center in Ghazir, Lebanon, won the P3 Preceptor of the Year award.

Thanking her alma mater for this recognition, Dr. Najem expressed how teaching and mentoring pharmacy students has long been her passion. “This year, we have all passed a crucial test in resilience that made us yet more eager to invest in this new generation of pharmacists because they represent the new mindset we desperately need in our institutions in unprecedented times.”