Preceptor Spotlight: Gerard Rivera

Meet Gerard Rivera (PharmD, Loma Linda ’11), Director of Pharmacy of Pacific Pharmacy Group, a group of seven independent community pharmacies located throughout Southern California.

Starting this year, Pacific Pharmacy Group is collaborating with USC School of Pharmacy to offer a post-graduate second year (PGy2) advanced community pharmacy practice residency based at Newport Lido Pharmacy in Newport Beach. Read more about it here.

Why did you choose to become a preceptor? What do you enjoy about it?

Gerard Rivera, Pacific Pharmacy Group’s Director of Pharmacy

I was blessed to have many amazing preceptors during my training in pharmacy school.  I promised myself that I wanted to do the same if ever given the opportunity to precept.

I find much joy in teaching students.  Ironically, I learn a lot from each and every student I precept.  Working with students helps me stay up-to-date with anything pharmacy-related.  I truly enjoy my interactions with each student and am constantly impressed with the work ethic and creativity each student has to offer.

Can you share a bit about your professional education and career?

I graduated from Loma Linda School of Pharmacy in 2011.  Immediately after graduation I became pharmacist in charge of a CVS store in La Mirada.  The following year, I started with my current company, Pacific Pharmacy Group, as pharmacist in charge of Newport Lido Pharmacy. The year after that, I was promoted to Director of Pharmacy and became responsible for all seven locations.

Optimal customer service is our main focus.  We have significantly grown our pharmacy revenue over the years. The secret to this success is simple: We pride ourselves on superior customer service!

Dr. Jan Balthasar (CEO of Pacific Pharmacy Group) has over 40 years of experience in independent community pharmacy, and he has been a key player to the recent success of Pacific Pharmacy Group.  Dr. Balthasar is an amazing mentor and leader who empowers his employees to maximize their potential. For this reason, each employee exceeds expectations.

What originally drew you to a career in pharmacy, specifically independent pharmacy?

I played high school varsity basketball and one of my teammates’ moms was a pharmacist who owned her own pharmacy.  Her name is Dr. Candace Shaw but we all called her “Mama Shaw.”  She always encouraged me to pursue pharmacy.  I’m glad I listened to her!

What advice do you have for current pharmacy students?

Try to live a balanced life.  Study hard and try to be involved in extracurricular activities. Building relationships early will only bring more opportunities for the future.  Adaptability is key.  The pharmacy business is constantly changing.  Willingness to adapt usually leads to success!

Why should other pharmacists consider being a preceptor?

Being a preceptor gives you the opportunity to help mold future pharmacists into healthcare professionals who can continue to serve patients and help ensure optimal outcomes.

Learn more about PharmD professional experience programs at USC School of Pharmacy. Pharmacists: Interested in becoming a preceptor? Email