Dr. Melody Sheffield Leaves Lasting Legacy in Southwest Georgia

After more than 19 years of dedicated service to the UGA College of Pharmacy, Dr. Melody Sheffield, the Campus Director for Pharmacy Practice Experiences at the Southwest Georgia (SWGA) Clinical Campus in Albany, will retire at the end of this month.

Exceptional, resilient, consistent, contributor, team player, valuable, and knowledgeable were words used by fellow colleagues to describe Melody, who was the inaugural faculty member in SWGA. Said Dr. Sharmon Osae, Clinical Assistant Professor in SWGA, “Melody has been the consistent figure for me since I was hired.  She is the embodiment of the resiliency and all that is good on the Albany Campus. I appreciate her willingness to step up into a leadership position when we were lacking, and her insight on various issues. She is leaving enormous shoes to fill, and she will be deeply missed. I am so excited for her journey into retirement; it is well deserved.”

Dr. Anthony Hawkins, Clinical Associate Professor in SWGA, provided anecdotal as well as professional accolades for his Albany colleague. “I used to carpool with Melody, and I loved it, because I learned so much from her. Her hobbies of astronomy, performing in plays, singing in the choir, and knowledge of the history of Albany, where she grew up, were fascinating to hear.  On campus, she stepped up as interim Assistant Dean for Professional Affairs and worked hard to sustain our operations while encouraging our students. And she exemplified the value of being a team player not just as a member of Experience Programs, but integrated with CAP department and has been a truly valuable asset.”

Dr. Lori Duke, Assistant Dean for Experience Programs, summed up the sentiments. “Melody has provided tremendous leadership in the development of our Southwest Georgia campus.  She made important connections with health systems, community and ambulatory practice sites, and preceptors, which laid the foundation of the College being able to support an extended campus in Southwest Georgia. In addition, she has been an exceptional team member within the Division of Experience Programs and the College of Pharmacy as a whole. She always stepped forward when there was an identified need and was a solid contributor.”

Melody reflected on her time at the College and the role she played in SWGA.

When did you start at the College?
I started working for the College of Pharmacy on November 1, 2002.

Why were you interested in joining the College?
I was approaching the completion of my degree in UGA’s non-traditional PharmD program and received an email announcing two faculty positions for Regional Coordinators; one of these was in SWGA. I was very interested in the opportunity and set out to learn more. Ultimately, I applied and received the SWGA position.

What roles did you serve within the CoP?
I served as Regional Coordinator, Campus Director for Pharmacy Practice Experiences, and as Interim Assistant Dean for Professional Affairs.

What were your various responsibilities?
In the Regional Coordinator position, I served as a liaison between the CoP preceptors, students and faculty in SWGA. The job involved oversight, implementation, and delivery of advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs).  Additionally, I developed a practice at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital to provide an experience in geriatrics. The Campus Director for Pharmacy Practice Experiences position included the duties of the Regional Coordinator and added on additional responsibilities for development and oversight of introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPEs) in SWGA. During this time, I transitioned my APPE from geriatrics to academia.  The Interim Assistant Dean for Professional Affairs position required that I keep SWGA faculty up-to-date with information from the main campus, work with Phoebe Putney administration to update our agreement for having students in SWGA, and assist with orientation of incoming students to the SWGA Clinical Campus.

What were the unique opportunities serving on an extended campus?
I never expected to work for the CoP as I did not plan to move to Athens. However, the job did not require me to relocate. The opportunity to network with existing preceptors and to recruit new preceptors was especially interesting to me.

Who was a mentor or special person for you at the CoP?
As I had no prior experience in academia, Dr. Lori Duke really invested time in my academic career development. She helped me with writing and publication experience, identifying opportunities to facilitate promotion, and addressing any questions or concerns I had.

What was your most indelible memory of the CoP?
I really enjoyed attending the commencement ceremonies and then seeing where students went after they completed their PharmD degree.

What was your favorite part of the job?
Networking with practicing pharmacists who were or wanted to become preceptors for APPEs.  It was a lot of fun to visit the various sites and see what type of practice experiences were available to our students.

What is your lasting legacy to the CoP? 
I hope that I am leaving the SWGA region with long lasting site and preceptor relationships that will serve our students well for years to come.

What is your greatest accomplishment? 
I am happy that I was able to be a part of opening up SWGA to more APPE students. The UGA CoP had two APPE students in SWGA in 2002-2003. For 2022-2023 there are 18 APPE students.

What do you want to be remembered for? 
Being the first full-time faculty member from the CoP at the SWGA Clinical Campus.

What will you miss the most?
I have been able to work with some great people in the Division of Experience Programs, and I will miss working with them.

What do you plan to do in retirement?
I look forward to spending more time with family.

Any other comments?
I have really enjoyed my work with the CoP. It has allowed me to gain experiences that may not have been available to me in other practice settings. I have been able to teach in the didactic and experiential portions of the curriculum, serve on numerous committees, and see our students progress through the PharmD curriculum, PGY1, PGY2, fellowships, and into their careers.

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