Passion for learning defines 2024 Teacher of the Year

Caroline L. Ko, PharmD, BCCCP, associate clinical professor

From her first day as a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) student, Caroline L. Ko, PharmD, BCCCP, associate clinical professor of pharmacy practice, knew she wanted to one day be on the other side of the lectern.

“I went into pharmacy because I love education,” said Dr. Ko. “You get to educate those around you—patients, the health care team and student pharmacists. I love teaching people about all the medications that we know so much about as pharmacists.”

Her love of learning shines through to her students. Dr. Ko was named the 2024 Teacher of the Year. She joined the Pacific faculty in 2022 and this recognition by the Class of 2024 is especially meaningful to her as this is the first class she taught throughout their time in the PharmD program.

“Dr. Ko is a professor I can truly say made an impact in my learning experience here at Pacific,” said Vanessa Trieu ’24, PharmD. “You can tell her dedication and passion are pure towards her students and in the world of pharmacy.”

Bridging the classroom and the hospital is the hallmark of Dr. Ko’s teaching style.

“Dr. Ko integrates real life cases to her class, for example, a short tour around her hospital facility, showing what is being used at her hospital and patient cases for assignments,” said Amanda Lee ’24, PharmD.

In her prior role as PGY2 residency program director at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC), if Dr. Ko was demonstrating how a particular medication could affect a patient’s vital signs, she would take the pharmacy resident to the patient’s bedside to explain the readings on the monitor. Now that she is in the classroom, Dr. Ko has adapted and has developed ways to bring make the hospital setting come to life from within the confines of a lecture hall.

“I started adding a lot more pictures and making videos for my professional Instagram account about the ‘day in the life’ of an emergency medicine pharmacist,” said Dr. Ko, who continues to work part-time as a pharmacist at SCVMC. “I love learning how to be a better teacher and getting to apply those concepts in the classroom right away.”

Dr. Ko credits her mentors with helping guide her to where she is today.

“I wouldn’t even be in this position, let alone in the position of being awarded Teacher of the Year, without the guidance and support of my mentors, colleagues, friends and family,” she said.

Dean Gundersen and Dr. Ko at the All-university Commencement and Degree Conferral Ceremony

As Teacher of the Year, Dr. Ko had the honor of carrying the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy’s banner at the All-university Commencement and Degree Conferral Ceremony on May 11 and the Diploma and Hooding Ceremony on May 18.