Caroline Ko, PharmD, BCPS, BCCCP has always loved teaching; whether it is patients, students or fellow health care professionals. “My favorite part about precepting is getting to ask the learner questions until I reach the edge of their knowledge,” said Dr. Ko. “From there I can supply the next needed clinical pearl, or piece of the puzzle, in order for them to link two separate pieces of information in their patient’s clinical situation.” She appreciates the opportunity to work directly with Pacific doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students. “It is the ‘aha’ moments that make it worthwhile. This approach to teaching can only happen during one-on-one interactions.”

Dr. Ko earned her doctor of pharmacy from University of California, San Francisco in 2012. She is a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist and board-certified critical care pharmacist. Dr. Ko is the PGY2 critical care pharmacy residency director and an emergency department pharmacist specialist at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. She was recognized as the 2019 Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) Preceptor of the Year for the San Jose region. The award recognizes voluntary faculty who make significant contributions to our experiential program and students.

Dr. Ko wants her students to stay curious and constantly ask themselves questions. “Spend time doing independent research, but also be ready to ask questions if you have trouble understanding how to connect the pieces of the puzzle,” she said. Dr. Ko shared that the preceptor role requires organization and preparation, but the rewards of watching students progress in their learning is worth the investment of one’s time.

“Spend time doing independent research, but also be ready to ask questions if you have trouble understanding how to connect the pieces of the puzzle.”

Elaine Law, PharmD, BCPS, assistant clinical professor and regional coordinator for San Jose, said, “Dr. Ko has contributed to our conference for the last four years by providing a discussion on Code Blue and the role of pharmacists. I know Dr. Ko personally and she is extremely dedicated to teaching and challenging students, she is an excellent mentor.”

The students who have worked with Dr. Ko shared how much they appreciated the way she both challenged and supported them. They said, “Dr. Ko’s help was monumental in aiding our transition from the didactic curriculum to clinical practice. She prepares her students well for rounds by pushing them to not only think critically, but also to anticipate the next steps in patient therapy. Dr. Ko always provided quick and comprehensive feedback on our student projects. She goes out of her way to attend our presentations even when she was not our primary preceptor. Outside of rotations, she was very interested in our professional development and continued to follow up with the next steps in our careers, offering to help when she could.”

By Kate M. O’Dell, PharmD, BCPS
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