For this month’s 2022 Milestone feature, Terrie Sajbel, RPh ’82 looks back over the past 40 years since graduating from the CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. As a two-time Preceptor of the Year through the School’s Experiential Programs, Terrie has nurtured future pharmacists adding to the community of highly regarded professionals in the industry.
What are you currently doing as a pharmacy professional and how did you progress to where you are today?
Terrie Sajbel, RPh '82
I graduated in 1982 from CU Pharmacy. I worked on a Nutritional Support Team in Pueblo, CO for three years before starting PharmD school at the University of Utah. This is where I met my husband John Hardy MD who was attending medical school at that time. After graduation, I spent time in industry as a regional medical manager, then returned to CU to be on faculty at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy. Following this I was the director of two hospital pharmacies within the same system Mercy Medical Center in Denver and St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Pueblo. Finally, I spent many years as the clinical pharmacist for the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo. I worked full-time my entire life and then retired almost four years ago and have been enjoying this new lifestyle. Throughout I have been active in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), local and state pharmacy groups and psychiatric pharmacy associations.
Through all of these positions I served as a preceptor for CU Pharmacy students and was awarded the Preceptor of the Year twice through the Experiential Programs Office. This was definitely a proud moment.
We have a daughter Jane who has a master’s degree in business analytics and is married to Alex, an attorney and they live in North Carolina. John and I have four dogs and split our time between Pueblo and Tucson AZ.
Outside of pharmacy, I have been an active member of the group Friends of the Pueblo Animal Shelter and I have served on the board of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.
What is different about the person you are today compared to the person you were while in school?
I’m far more confident and outgoing than I was in pharmacy school. I’m not sure if I ever asked a question during class. Now I’m quite talkative and always willing to voice an opinion or ask a question despite who is in the room.
What has been a defining moment for you as a seasoned professional?
While it’s not actually a defining moment, I often reflected during my professional life on how fortunate I was to have found the career I was meant to be in.
What inspired you to attend the CU Pharmacy program and what was your experience while in the program?
I was attending CU Boulder and was in the sciences but had not decided which direction to go when I met someone in pharmacy school and I looked into it and decided to apply. At that time in my life, I would not have considered going out of state, so I was lucky to get in. My experience in the program while in Boulder was quite similar to the previous years there, but the big change was in our third year. We went to class at the medical campus in Denver on Colorado Boulevard in the afternoon and the Experiential Program in the morning. This is when pharmacy school felt more like professional school than just university.
What is your proudest moment and your favorite thing about working in the pharmacy profession?
My favorite thing in the profession is the diversity of what you can do. I have taught, worked in industry, been a hospital department director, clinical pharmacist and a therapeutic specialist, which makes a unique career that’s always interesting. Helping physicians, hospital systems and patients is always meaningful. Throughout my career I have always been a preceptor and one-on-one teaching can be fun and rewarding. One of my proudest moments was receiving the Preceptor of the Year award twice.
What sage advice would you pass on to current and future students that was helpful for you in preparing for the job market?
Be flexible. That may mean trying a different position that you think you are not interested in or be willing to move to a different place if you are able to. I once was offered a position and went in to turn it down when I was informed that it was not an option to stay in the same position and I would have to move up. I decided to take the position and ended up really liking the job. Pharmacy will give you lifetime friends and never forget Pharmacy is a small community. Someone you worked with sometime ago may someday be your boss. This small community will help you achieve what you ultimately want to do. Use the people you work with for advice and hopefully for connections to something else if that is your desire.