Reflective Essay: Week 2
John Michael Segars
10/21/12 – 10/26/12
With swaying palm fronds and waves curling into the sand, I arrived in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the ACCP annual meeting with a smile on my face. I detected the scent of salt-water permeating the air as the warm wind pushed itself on to my skin. Many hours on an airplane had resulted in a subdued state of mind, however, the sunlight seemed to decongest my thoughts, and I felt a greater sense of joy in this new environment. The Westin Diplomat Hotel, a towering glass structure, stood tall in the skyline reflecting the sun’s light. It was an incredible location for the event due to its ample space for meetings and its position right on the beach.
The next day Jen and I set up our AACP booth to showcase our programs and educate clinical pharmacists about the organization we represent and careers in academic pharmacy. Clinical pharmacists, researchers, and faculty members of various institutions diffused through the exhibit hall, and it was quite exciting to watch them marvel at poster presentations and discuss current pharmacy issues. At our booth we had a large number of individuals come up and ask us questions about AACP. I was impressed that so many clinical pharmacists are preceptors, and I was even more excited that many of these clinicians were interested in tools to become a more effective teacher. Jen was an expert at discussing Education Scholar, APJE, and membership, while I tried to advertise the AACP Walmart Scholars program to any educator/preceptor or student that would listen. Nodding politely and asking astute questions, the ACCP members who came to our booth seemed genuinely interested in mentoring future students for the AACP Walmart Scholars program. For many of the people I talked to, the desire to become a preceptor was a matter of encouraging the person that he or she was capable, resourceful, and able to educate upcoming graduates. I gave insight into my own experiences as a student, and I tried to boost the confidence of educators who had interesting practice sites but had not yet branched out to accept students on APPEs.
The next day, we were back at the booth, discussing AACP with more clinical pharmacists and providing information. After the exhibit, I was privileged to sit in on a conversation of pharmacy practice department chairs from different schools who were discussing how to impact the process of pharmacy practice after graduation. Questions originated about how to create pharmacists that will be able to acquire clinical pharmacy jobs despite the current job demand. As well as questions about how recent graduates and residents are struggling to create their own opportunities within the pharmacy profession. They discussed the need for more consistency among the messaging about what pharmacy practice is from different national associations, and they claimed that more standard messaging in pharmacy practice should occur so that doctors, nurses, and other health professionals will have a better idea of the pharmacist’s role in a given health team.
As I sat synthesizing the information I learned at ACCP on the plane home, I realized that I felt happy about the honesty of the experience. Honesty’s presence lingered in the preceptor who craved better skills at educating students, the students who wanted to be involved in AACP Walmart Scholars Program, and the pharmacy practice department chairs who were discussing the reality of the workforce in a post-graduate world. I believe through this thread of truth, pharmacy will be able to rise into a more powerful profession. The vulnerabilities of the pharmacy career, those underlying problematic areas, are the most important to discuss in order to move forward. A clinical pharmacist, who knows a student has potential as an educator but fears that he or she cannot help to expand the student’s possibilities, now knows about the networking opportunities available through the AACP Walmart Scholars Program. The preceptor who is having difficulties with educating his students now has more information on the resource of the Education Scholar program. The pharmacy practice department chair with concerns about the graduating class’s opportunities can now voice this to a receptive audience. All of these vulnerabilities have the potential to morph into strengths as long as we are honest and open to receiving help from others. It was an experience that I shall never forget, and I valued my time in Florida immensely.
Back at the office in Alexandria, I continued my meetings with the senior staff members in order to learn more about the many functions of AACP. I had a meeting with Dr. Lynette Bradley-Baker, and we discussed the AACP presidential charge of the AACP Professional Affairs Standing Committee regarding effective relationships between state pharmacy organizations in a given state and the pharmacy schools in those states. I met with Dr. Cecilia Plaza who discussed her role in revising the CAPE Outcomes, which will create a framework for what the pharmacy accrediting body and pharmacy education institutions will adopt in regards to pharmacy curriculum. The CAPE Outcomes provide definitions for pharmaceutical care, population-based care, and systems management. They outline how pharmacists are working with other health professionals, using evidence based information to make suggestions on patient care, use quality assurance in dispensing, or communicate with other team members for the most effective patient outcomes. These outcomes set a foundation for what a pharmacist should be able to do in a variety of practice or business settings upon graduation. These CAPE Outcomes will act to influence what student pharmacists in the United States will be learning over the next few years; thus, this document will directly influence pharmacy schools, faculty, student pharmacists, pharmacists, and patients.
My last meeting of the week was with Dr. Karna Mapes, the Director of Education at AACP. She talked about her role in advancing faculty development for the pharmacy schools that AACP represents and supports. She had many ideas about how to engage faculty in new and innovative ways to incorporate active learning components into the classroom. I was impressed to learn that she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education in order to expand her knowledge about effective pedagogical styles.
My time at AACP seems to be disappearing at a rapid rate, but I am attempting to utilize my time here effectively to learn as much as I can. I plan to continue to meet with senior staff members in order to broaden my knowledge of policy and advocacy and academic affairs. It is my hope to attend the CAPE panel meeting as well as the professional affairs committee meetings at the beginning of next week. I will be finishing the financial aid projects that were started by previous APPE students, and I will continue to extend a positive attitude and professional demeanor to the AACP staff. I look forward to another week here.