Matt Walker fits into his new job the way James Bond fits into a new suit. Perfectly.
The new director of experiential education at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy has:
- experience in multiple pharmacy settings
- worked closely with students
- a love for teaching and training
- a regional network of pharmacy contacts
- an impressive track record of successful administration
He’s also a native South Carolinian who graduated from the MUSC College of Pharmacy, has spent the last two years as director of college relations and professional recruitment at Rite Aid, has experience with program accreditation, is licensed in four states (plus D.C.), is excited about the collaborative nature of the experiential program, and has a dynamic vision for MUSC’s part in it.
His resume and the job description of MUSC director of experiential education are a hand and glove separated at birth. Even 007’s tailor would whistle in appreciation.
Walker joins Cathy Worrall, associate dean for student affairs and experiential education at MUSC, Jennifer Baker, director of experiential education at the University of South Carolina (USC), and Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential education at USC, as part of the experiential team running the Palmetto Experiential Education Partnership (PEEP), a joint program between MUSC and USC.
“I’ve had a unique path through my career that touched on a lot of different aspects of pharmacy and it seems like they all have prepared me in some way for the different parts of this job,” Walker said. “It almost seems too good to be true.”
Having an additional resource at PEEP will allow the team to spend more time on things like preceptor development through training, site visits, evaluations, continuing education and/or providing other resources to improve the experiential experience for both preceptor and student.
A native of Due West, S.C., Walker vacationed in Charleston as a child and knew he was going to the College of Charleston from about age five. At 16, he started working as a technician in a drug store and decided he was going to pharmacy school after College of Charleston. The MUSC College of Pharmacy was a natural next step.
After graduating in 2005, Walker worked as pharmacy manager at Target, CVS, Harris Teeter and Rite Aid in various cities as well as spending some time in the Rite Aid corporate office. As Rite Aid regional clinical pharmacist from 2010 to 2011, he coordinated clinical activities in 226 mid-Atlantic stores. In April 2011, he became Rite Aid pharmacy district manager, a position in which he operated 27 pharmacies in Atlanta and then 25 pharmacies in Washington D.C.
In October 2015, he became director of college relations and professional recruitment for Rite Aid. He was responsible for the recruiting efforts and college relations with 64 colleges of pharmacy in 22 states, plus D.C. He worked with colleges to select and train preceptors, established scholarships and clinical affiliation agreements, coordinated NAPLEX review for graduating students, trained pharmacy district managers, worked with community pharmacy residency coordinators to select residents and coordinated activities for reaccreditation of residency and pharmacy technician programs.
“Matt’s career experience is exactly what we were looking for,” said Worrall. “His mix of leadership, entrepreneurship, personality and accountability is a real asset that can help the program in many areas. We’re very excited to have him aboard.”
Coming back to MUSC offered Walker a chance to experience yet another side of what it means to be a pharmacist.
“On the practice side, the whole point is to use your education and help your patients have better outcomes,” Walker said. “Management let me experience another side of what you can do with a pharmacy degree. While I missed the direct patient care part, I got to reach them through training and coaching of others so I could have a large impact and reach a larger patient population. As director of experiential education, I can do that same thing in yet another way.”