Dr. Maria Miller Thurston

Clinical Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice

Maria M. ThurstonEducation

  • Pharm.D., University of Georgia College of Pharmacy
  • PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency, Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • PGY-2 Ambulatory Care Pharmacy Residency, University of Georgia College of Pharmacy/Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Courses

  • PHA 450:  Nervous System Disorders I
  • PHA 451:  Nervous System Disorders II
  • PHA 456:  Disorders of the Integument and Special Senses
  • PHA 680:  Ambulatory Care Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE)

Teaching Philosophy

Students are the future of pharmacy, and I believe that it is my responsibility to give back to the practice of pharmacy through educating future practitioners. As an educator, it is my desire for students to understand how to practice in a clinical setting, while focusing on the patient as a whole. The key elements that will encompass my teaching focus are using clinical skills, effective communication, understanding diversity, learning from constructive evaluations, and pursuing life-long learning. Educating students and offering knowledge and clinical pearls about various disease states and medications provides students with information for effective patient care. Therefore, it is extremely important to teach students how to think critically and solve problems. As a clinical faculty member in ambulatory care, I incorporate the knowledge from didactic courses and translate that into clinical practice. My goal is to educate students in terms of medication uses, side effects, and interactions. Students should be able to select the appropriate medication for a given patient and disease state with appropriate monitoring. To achieve this, students should be familiar with national guidelines and consensus statements. Students should also be able to counsel patients concerning medications, use of equipment, such as blood pressure monitors or inhalers, and educate patients on self-care measures, including lifestyle modifications. I can make an impression on future practitioners by showing them how my practice setting relates to all other practice settings. I plan to give students as much autonomy as they are willing to accept, as I encourage my students to be independent, critical thinkers.

In order to accomplish this goal, I incorporate all types of learning styles into my teaching, since students learn in different ways and certain techniques work better, depending on the learning environment. I do not wish to limit any student’s learning opportunities. The specific learning styles I use include: Presentations and lectures with active leaning, demonstrations, cases, games, and topic discussions. By using a combination of these teaching styles, my hope is that students will have a diverse experience and truly learn how to become independent practitioners, capable of providing direct patient care. My overall role is to provide a framework of knowledge upon which students can build and to present various examples of relevant patient cases in hopes of bringing the information to life and creating a “need to know.” In order to help students begin to think like a pharmacist, I encourage them to analyze patient profiles and look for any drug related problems and potential medication related interventions. One way that I achieve this, is through the use of case studies. After presenting students with some basic information about a patient, they meet in small groups to work through a real life scenario. Students must analyze information and apply their knowledge to solve pertinent problems commonly encountered in pharmacy practice. During lectures, I use active learning techniques such as fill in the blanks, “think, pair, share,” debates, case questions, and small group discussions to keep students engaged. Other methods of learning for APPE students include journal clubs, topic discussions, drug information questions, and presentations.

Students will be evaluated based on participation, completion of assignments, patient interactions, and development of clinical assessments/plans. During breakout sessions, students have time to discuss the case in groups and then present, to ensure they have discussed the case thoroughly. Information omitted by students is addressed by asking open-ended questions and probing to make them think critically. To ensure students understand the material discussed, they will take quizzes, tests, final exams, and a laboratory practical exam. In addition, students will be evaluated by surrounding clinical staff when it permits. Students should be able to demonstrate the appropriate use of machines, such as blood pressure or blood glucose monitors and proper screening technique during practical exams. Students should also show how to use inhalers and provide proper patient counseling. Students will even learn how to constructively self-evaluate and become stronger practitioners. By incorporating all of these teaching styles and means for evaluation, my hope is that students have a beneficial and productive learning experience in my practice setting, whether it be didactic, small group, or experiential. Educating students and providing feedback regarding their knowledge base and skills helps students to grow from future practitioners into well-informed, competent pharmacists.

Selected Publications

  • Thurston MM, Galdo JG, Bourg CA. Clinical Considerations for Ambulatory Care Insulin Pharmacotherapy Part Two: Evidence-Based Approach. Clinical Diabetes. 2015 Jan;33(1):20-27.
  • Thurston MM, Bourg CA, Phillips BB, Huston SA.Impact of Health Literacy Level on Aspects of Medication Nonadherence Reported by Underserved Patients with Type 2 Diabetes.Diabetes Technology &Therapeutics.2015 17(3).PMID: 25531555
  • Galdo JG, Thurston MM, Bourg CA. Clinical considerations for insulin pharmacotherapy in ambulatory care, part one: introduction and review of current products and guidelines. Clinical Diabetes. 2014 Apr;32(2):66-75.
  • Thurston MM, Phillips BB, Bourg CA. Safety and efficacy of allopurinol in chronic kidney disease. Ann Pharmacother. 2013 Nov;47(11):1507-16. doi: 10.1177/1060028013504740.
  • Phillips BB, Thurston MM. “Osteoporosis.” In: Chisholm-Burns MA, Wells BG, Schwinghammer TL, Malone PM, Kolesar JM, DiPiro JT, eds. Pharmacotherapy Principles &Practice. 3rd ed. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Co. (2013).Schwinghammer T.L., Malone P.M., Kolesar J.M., DiPiro J.T., eds. Pharmacotherapy Principles &Practice. 3rd ed. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill Co. (Expected Release February 2013).
  • Thurston MM, Phillips BB, Bourg CA. Safety and efficacy of allopurinol in chronic kidney disease. Ann Pharmacother. 2013 Nov;47(11):1507-16. doi: 10.1177/1060028013504740.

Contact Maria Miller Thurston


(678) 547-6253
thurston_mm@mercer.edu