Dr. Robert Shrewsbury (RS), Ph.D., provided us some of his time to be interviewed by Sit with Senate’s committee member Megan Tran. Dr. Shrewsbury is an associate professor in the Practice Advancement and Clinical Education (PACE) department. He is one of our beloved faculty members and he is widely known to be the head of all our compounding courses offered here at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy (ESOP). In this week’s faculty spotlight with Dr. Shrewsbury, we learn about his career path, research endeavors, commitments, and life outside of the classroom.
SwS: Can you tell us more about how you got to your current position today?
RS: “Forty years ago I was hired here (ESOP) to teach pharmacokinetics and biopharmaceutics. As time went along we had more faculty members being hired to teach these courses and I was assigned to teach a pharmaceutics lab which turned into what you guys know as the compounding lab. I remember when ESOP got into using broadband internet. I was quite fascinated by it, and as a result, I had to learn how to code HTML and write every line and character for my pharmlabs website. I was contacted by a person who saw my website and liked my writing style. He was an editor for several pharmacy technician books, asked me to consider writing books. I really considered it and as a result, I started to write books in compounding in 1999. It’s not just the textbook I use here at our school (Applied Pharmaceutics in Contemporary Compounding), but I also write chapters in another series of books for pharmacy technicians. Additionally, around 10 years ago, I developed an interest to be a part of the changes occurring with compounding, and so I decided to submit my name to join the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). I have learned much as a member of the USP committee.”
Megan asked Dr. Shrewsbury what he loved most about compounding and his response is as follows: I really love the students here; I think we have the best students in the entire world. You guys are fun and intelligent and overall just good people. At the end of the day, I just love good people who know how to work hard and have a little fun.
SwS: What research endeavors are you currently participating in?
RS: “Currently, I am analyzing the compounds of all the students who are taking the lab course. Sterile compounding has been a topic of discussion and our students have some exposure to that here. We have observed and analyzed student’s aseptic techniques during the lab, and despite executing the proper techniques and having a good score, many students have failed the analysis portion. I want to know why our students cannot make a suitable IV preparation when they are being supervised and evaluated in their work. This highlights the importance of preparation analysis. As a pharmacist, these types of products will ultimately be compounded for future patients. There are so many samples to go through, and that requires a lot of manpower from the faculty side. As a result, I want to try to have students analyze the preparations they have made. Hence, the goal remains to have the students check their preparations during the lab course.”
SwS: What influenced you to pursue a position in the Compounding Expert Committee of the USP Convention?
RS: “About 10 years ago, I recognized that compounding would ultimately be redefined. It was time to revise USP 795 and 797 standards, and USP had been requested to chapter 800. I wanted to be a part of the future of compounding, and since I saw the need, I just applied to be a part of the committee. I enjoy working with people from different practices (from different companies and countries) and I was accepted).”
SwS: What are some things you like to do outside being a pharmacy faculty?
RS: “I love playing the piano and traveling. When I was little, my parents had me take piano lessons. Every morning before school, I would practice for at least an hour (6-7 AM). My mom actually told me that I played better than my sister, and they could tell whether either of us had been practicing. I had to practice each piece of music 4 times a day, so I would roll marbles from left to right on the piano in the groove where you placed your sheet music to keep track of the number of times. The piano was located along the wall next to my parents’ bedroom, so they would constantly hear me playing the same song over and over again. -chuckles>
These days I really like to play challenging songs from composer Mark Hayes and I also enjoy playing Gospel music. As far as traveling goes, I like taking the roads least traveled. Additionally, I like traveling to where you can see the Aurora Borealis, so have been to Iceland, Norway, and Alaska. ”
SwS: If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?
RS: “I would love to go to Easter Island. I believe that place has a lot of mysteries, and I like that I could potentially learn about what they are. I am into things such as space, comets, planets, and the universe. I have a lot of history with astronomy. In high school, I got a National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship at the NY planetarium to study astronomy with Carl Sagan. At the planetarium, I was able to see two auroras, and I was quite fascinated with them. I find it very enjoyable to learn about space and our universe.”