Butler pharmacy director, Cranston resident
honored by URI College of Pharmacy
KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 19, 1999--The University of Rhode Islands
College of Pharmacy has named Cranston resident Walter D. Soja the
"Preceptor of the Year" for 1998.
Soja, who holds bachelors degrees in agriculture and pharmacy from
URI, has been the director of pharmacy at Butler Hospital for 19 years and
the clinical pharmacist at Hospice Care of Rhode Island. URI pharmacy students
at both sites nominated Soja for the award, which honors his dedication
and skill in working with pharmacy students during their clinical experiences.
Henrique Pedro, director of experiential learning at URIs College
of Pharmacy, said Soja epitomizes what the College looks for in a preceptor.
"He works extremely well with the students, and he also inspires
them because he is constantly working on his own development as a professional,"
Soja, who holds a masters degree in pharmacy from Northeastern
University, is presently pursuing his doctor of pharmacy degree at URI.
"Our students see that this is a guy with persistence," Pedro
said. "He has also served on several committees here at the College,
and is an adjunct assistant professor of pharmacy."
Soja, who oversees two other pharmacists and two technicians at Butler
Hospital, a 117-bed facility for patients with psychiatric illnesses, normally
works with six URI pharmacy students per year who experience the clinical
side of psychiatry and psychopharmacology.
Soja knows students may have certain reservations about working with
patients with mental illness. Once Soja discusses the reality of mental
illness and the students meet the patients, they become much more receptive
and enjoy the experience. Soja stated, "The students wind up with a
better understanding of mental illness and the medications used to treat
it. We want our students to learn that the way they are going to have an
impact in pharmacy is with clinical knowledge. We need pharmacists who know
medications and people."
Soja, who grew up in Pawtucket, said many of his students come
away with a heightened interest in psychiatry, and all have a better understanding
of mental illness.
Soja said he dreamt of becoming a pharmacist during his high school days
while working at State Line Pharmacy on Broadway in Pawtucket. He
said he learned a great deal from the owners, John and Aldo Albanese.
"I worked the soda fountain. I delivered medications to peoples
houses," he said. "John and Aldo showed me how much fun you can
have on the job."
As the clinical pharmacist at Hospice Care of Rhode Island, Soja, is
responsible for pain management and resource control. Hospice provides comprehensive
services for the terminally ill.
"I tell students that well be talking about drugs, but the
vast amount of experience will be about death and dying," Soja said.
"Assistance with medications can only be part of the support. There
is social and spiritual support. Students learn that they can go into a
persons home and be of help. They cant help but be touched."