April 5, 2013
The staff at American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) may not have realized this, but I am a sucker for sweets. Any food is the way to my heart, actually. So, naturally, I immediately noticed the open bag of chocolates offered to the staff working with Academic Affairs when I entered the Associate Executive Vice President’s, Ruth E. Nemire’s, office for an orientation meeting for two new staff members and myself. The bag served as just one small example in the big picture of how welcoming the roughly thirty people working for the Association have been. Ruth E.’s corner office was bordered by windows with the sun peeking in, and the eight other attendees were bringing in large, comfortable chairs from other offices and placing them in a circle. Each person then described their role and the work they do. It wasn’t until Cecilia Plaza, Senior Director of Academic Affairs, pointed out the diverse background of the talented staff that I realized I was not actually in a room full of pharmacists. I felt silly not realizing this myself, but how can you blame a PharmD student on her eighth of nine rotations? I had been surrounded by almost exclusively pharmacists for the past year, and now I was surrounded by a group with a greater diversity of occupational backgrounds.
AACP’s office houses meeting planners, pharmacology researchers funded by the National Institute of Health, Master of Public Health and Public Policy graduates, pharmacists and educators, economics and art history majors. All of these backgrounds play an integral role in the functioning of AACP and the progress toward the unified vision of academic pharmacy creating a healthier society, and they defy the standard workplace hierarchy by branching out and contributing to the work of more than just their own or their group’s portfolio.
The success created by seeking mentors and colleagues outside of my own pharmacy professional specialty is something I will strive to seek out more of in my future. As for my first week experience, it’s difficult to believe I have spent such a short time here off the quaint streets of Old Town Alexandria. Each person working for the Association has been genuine and proactive in creating a comfortable and driven environment. I have already gained a picture of how AACP is organized, and the great amount of purposeful work that is done. –And I was handed three chocolate candies by the Academic Affairs team, when I only asked for one.
APPE Student Desk
Dayl Eccles, PharmD Student 2013University of Washington
I can’t believe how time has flown by. I am on my last day of my rotation at AACP. My experiences here have taught me multitudes about professionalism and being detail oriented. These lessons learned will continue to be practiced in my everyday career in order to ingrain these concepts into my daily routine.
My week four consisted of completing my evaluation of the Academic Fellows Leadership Program. In particular, I wanted to incorporate what the fellows thought about the program, thus, I reached out to previous fellows to provide feedback. I was under the impression that this was ok, however, I was overzealous and reached out to participants without Brad Miller’s approval of the email I would use to send out. While I generally received positive feedback from participants, some of the participants didn’t receive the email well because they were unfamiliar with me in relationship to the program. Some of the fellows even questioned the email for its authenticity because of their unfamiliarity with me.
Once responses like this had been received, I received advice on the proper protocol for sending emails and actually working on a team with other people. As far as emails are concerned, when working within an association or any organization, not only the format, but also the content and phrasing are crucial, since every email sent out represents the organization. I have been here only for three weeks, thus I do not have the length of experience to represent the organization. In addition, I should have informed Brad not only of my intentions to send out an email, but actually showed Brad the email so he could proof it and give me advice on the email. This was my biggest lesson that I learned from this rotation, my role on a team. I have been on various rotations where I had to work on a team, and these assignments have usually been presentations where we collaborated with each other on our content, format, and then presented. However, this is not the correct approach, especially when working in a team. The correct approach is to inform team members of your progress on your specific part and seek out feedback from your other team members. This approach will be one that I implement from now on, as it allows for constructive feedback, as well as to keep team members informed on the progress of your work.
My week five is very bittersweet. I am so glad to have met everyone at AACP and I am so sad to leave. My fifth week consisted of me putting the final touches on my project presentation and completing my evaluation with Jen. I used ‘Prezi’ as a tool to present my findings to Brad and Danielle. The feedback I received was great, and Prezi was kind of stressful to use, simply because it is very different from using PowerPoint. However, it is a very innovative tool. Prezi is very fluid and with Prezi, you’re able to visualize the idea that is being presented, unlike PowerPoint, which is very static. I am glad I got introduced to it and look forward to having a chance to implement something like this for educational purposes. As I close out my final moments rotating at AACP, I can feel the professional growth I have experienced. For example, my interactions with team members to even simple tasks such as sending emails have experienced growth. I hope to continue this growth in my PGY1 residency at James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Hospital in Tampa, FL.
Reflective Essay: Week 4 & 5
February 4 – 15, 2013
I am going to go out on a limb, and say that my experience here has been beyond unique, not just for the type of rotation and experiences offered, but also for the timing of my rotation – being present for the week prior to and during the AACP Interim Meeting scheduled in Puerto Rico. During the hustle, I was able to see the nuts and bolts of putting together an association meeting and everyone preparing their presentations, followed by the opportunity to see the event come to full fruition. Seeing the basic operations of this was a real treat for me, but it was nothing compared to the lessons learned during my rotation. Meaningful interaction. I have found that to be the recurring theme for my time spent here at AACP. From my daily interactions with everyone around the office, to writing about interprofessional education and the importance of such interactions, I now understand and can fully appreciate the phrase. I have a new appreciation for the exposure to “meaningful interactions” that I have gained while at AACP, and have been able to look back at my time spent in pharmacy school and appreciate my past experiences similar to those here. While in Puerto Rico, I knew there would be several leaders in the academic pharmacy world, but I was not prepared for just how much meaningful interaction I would be able to have with these individuals at the interim meeting. My role in the meeting was to serve as the student representative for the Pharmacy College Admissions Test (PCAT) Advisory Committee, as they worked to make changes to the PCAT blueprint. When I entered the small conference room, I was greeted by a room of about 15 people, all of different backgrounds but sharing a similar interest – making improvements to the PCAT so that pharmacy school candidates are tested for skills in the affective domain, that are of greater interest to pharmacy schools, such as empathy and critical thinking. The conference room had one solid wall of doors leading out to the ocean. At one point, the room was chilly and the doors were opened, making concentration more than difficult with the sound of crashing waves interrupting the conversations about aptitude for skills in the affective domain and the ability to test for them. It was in this room that I felt like a true professional for the first time. As I intently listened to the conversation, I added my comments and thoughts when I felt they would be relevant or helpful, which was surprisingly more often than I expected. Not only did this give me the opportunity to interact with the individuals on the PCAT Advisory Committee, but I was able to have that “ah-ha!” moment when the committee was discussing the importance of helping pre-pharmacy students transform into student pharmacists and then pharmacists and what qualities are the best for that. It was a period of true reflection as I was able to think back on my education and see how those qualities were strengthened in myself. Prior to beginning this rotation, I have had several opportunities to work with medical professionals and present myself as an educated student pharmacist should; I have been respectful, inquisitive, and timely. I have always thought that I knew how to read a crowd and how my behavior should be adapted so as not to offend anyone, or make myself look foolish. Prior to this rotation, I thought that this was enough to consider myself professional. This rotation has taught me about a realm of professionalism beyond wearing a pressed white coat and closed-toe shoes. I believe the main thing I will take away from my rotation at AACP is improvement in my professional communication skills, both oral and written. From contributing to the APPE student blog, to a mock-interview that Dr. Adams arranged to prepare me for residency interviews, I thought I had these skills prior to this rotation, but I had not even scratched the surface of fully articulating my thoughts and opinions appropriately. But beyond the daily tasks of being a student pharmacist, I have learned that professionalism is more than just a basic behavior one conveys – it is an attitude, an internal set of values that one continuously develops. I have been molded by these experiences – pharmacy school, various rotations, and especially my rotation in association management here at AACP. I have been molded by the influences of others – faculty members, classmates, and preceptors. I am nothing short of grateful for these opportunities and the realization that each one of these has independently helped me get to where I am today. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would reach this point in my academic career, preparing for a residency with an interest in academia. I guess that goes to show that you can never open too many doors or expose yourself to too many opportunities.
Reflective Essay: Week 3
What a whirlwind week! Yes, I said that last week as well – the past two weeks have been a flurry of ever-changing tasks with multiple objectives, requirements, and deadlines. While on this rotation, most APPE students focus their attention on a large project of their choosing. Rather than work on one task, I have spent my time here at AACP working on various small projects with different staff members. My assignment for this week was given to me by Dr. Lynette Bradley-Baker, the Director of Professional Alliance Development. She has been serving on a committee comprised of professionals from associations like AACP and some from academic institutions. For the particular report that I read, the focus of the group was to “(1) Identify successful practices in the development and maintenance of effective relationships between state pharmacy organizations and schools/colleges of pharmacy and (2) Recommend strategies related to state and local policy developments to optimally position pharmacists in health reform initiatives”. In this charge, the committee sent out a request to each school of pharmacy asking for information on how their programs collaborate with their respective boards of pharmacy and state associations. This gave various colleges of pharmacy with an established connection to these groups an opportunity to highlight their relationships. While reading through the committee report, I began to realize just how beneficial these relationships are to one another, and the fact that these connections are not more standardized is puzzling to me. Each individual party promotes pharmacy and advances the profession with their own standpoint and methodology to ultimately improve patient care, however separated they may be. There are isolated meetings between the parties, but few have meaningful interactions. The committee states the particular ways that each group contributes to the realm of pharmacy practice, saying, “We cannot forget how interconnected we are be it educating future pharmacists and providing the scholarship/research to improve practice (schools/colleges of pharmacy), advancing and protecting public health (state boards of pharmacy) and advocating and leading the advancement of professional practice and the role that pharmacists play in patient care in all settings (state pharmacy associations)”. As a student, it is overwhelming to think that all along we have had this camaraderie available; we just have not tapped into all our resources. The ability to work in unison has always been present, but who should make the first move? Although each group is responsible for establishing and maintaining these relationships, it must take a true visionary to get the ball rolling -- someone who can see the “bigger picture” of the pharmacy profession, then act to build this alliance. I believe the start for these foundations is having a person who is represented in two of the mentioned groups, and is looking to increase involvement, such as a current faculty member who has a leadership role in a state association. Some of the submitted reports from the various colleges of pharmacy shed light on how they work with their state board and state associations. Activities ranged from changing state pharmacy practice regulations to new course requirements in pharmacy education. It was eye-opening to see that these exchanges were a great way to keep everyone informed and the communication between parties “keeps everyone on the same page”. Although it may seem daunting at first glance, there are endless possibilities with respect to working together for the advancement of pharmacy practice and patient care. I am fortunate enough to come from a state that has established these practices and I hope that I will be part of such collaborations one day. Having had some exposure to some current and successful integrated practices will serve me well if I am to be a key player in the advancement of pharmacy practice. After seeing that not all states have these established tri-party collaborations, I will not take such meaningful interactions so lightly.
Reflective Essay: Week 2
What a whirlwind week! The office is in a hustle to have everything ready for the Interim Meeting. As the week began, meeting materials covered the floor a few steps from the elevators and everyone’s calendar was swamped with meetings to finalize all the fine details. By Thursday, boxes have been packed and shipped by some of the staff as others are working on their presentations that are to be presented in Puerto Rico. Seeing all of the preparatory work needed to plan for a successful meeting was truly inspiring, as each staff member aided in the process. Seeing how an association is run is a completely different experience that any other work environment I have been a part of – each staff member, although their day-to-day tasks are completely different, is working towards the common goal of progress and improvement. This common vision makes for an enjoyable work day. The main focus of my week was spent working with Dr. Lucinda Maine, AACP Executive Vice President and CEO, on both a written article and serving as a colleague as she guest lectured at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS). The time that was dedicated to these two tasks provided invaluable experiences for me. With respect to my writing assignment, it was hard to leave “blog-mode” (or colloquial, as Jen informs me) writing techniques, and demonstrate academic writing. After a good deal of time sitting in Jen’s office breaking down my article sentence by sentence, I quickly realized that I had no idea how to change my writing styles to appropriately cater to my audience. As we worked together, I watched and absorbed the process of how to adjust my writing techniques to better articulate my thoughts. I can only hope that as this rotation moves forward, my writing will continue to improve and eventually I will be able to produce great writing completely on my own.In order to join Dr. Maine on her quest to serve as a guest lecturer we met at the Hyatt in Bethesda. The walk from the hotel entrance to the pre-heated seats of her car in the bone-chilling winter air shocked me to life as effectively as three cups of coffee. As her car joined the traffic on Wisconsin Avenue, Dr. Maine began to tell me exactly where we were going, and who would be attending her lecture. She informed me of a connection she made with a man named Pat some twenty years ago, and how he was her connection to USUHS. He had a wide variety of passions, from lobbying for psychologists to have prescriptive authority, to being an aid for the establishment of the first pharmacy school in Hawaii. The audience was composed of military personnel with a nursing background, enrolled in a PhD program. As part of their educational requirement, these students have to take part of a policy course, as well as develop policies of their own. Once we pulled onto the campus, we were immediately at a security checkpoint. Luckily for us, Dr. Maine was on the “admission” list, and we were directed to our building. We were greeted by one of the female students who had been coordinating the lecture with Dr. Maine, and we were taken to a room with a large set of tables in the middle, surrounded by approximately twelve chairs. I then realized this was no traditional lecture, but rather a group of individuals sharing a common interest, aiming to improve their knowledge of policy and advocacy.Dr. Maine led the discussion by introducing the movement of nation-wide immunization rights for pharmacists, explaining step-by-step how a few states planned a practice model that was easily integrated into the current pharmacy practice. She explained that once the mission had been decided, it took a mere ten years for fifty-two states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, to join the forces and allow for pharmacist-provided immunizations. Through this process she enlightened the students about different strategies that can be utilized to obtain a desired change, and the benefits of networking and “knowing the right person, in the right place, at the right time”. The student’s faces lit up as she revealed, layer by layer, how each key player was an integral component, and how branching outside of your own network is the way to achieve policy change.This experience revealed to me that I am unaware of how things that are standard in pharmacy practice came to be that way, and how hard people have fought in order to achieve what they believe is best, not only for our pharmacy profession, but for our patient populations as well. These game-changers have to be not only strategic in their methodology, but also patient, as change rarely occurs overnight. So, from this moment on, I plan to appreciate the things in my education that seem “standard”, such as being immunization certified as a student pharmacist. I plan to be grateful for each educational opportunity, as without them I would be left with nothing to do but count pills all day.