10/29/12 – 11/1/12
The third week of my rotation at AACP was quite unique. Forceful winds propelled by Hurricane Sandy in the Atlantic resulted in the office being closed for two days. I stayed in the safety of my apartment during this time, watching the weather channel as the meteorologist pointed to a sinister, swirling blob that moved slowly across the northeast corner of the United States on his map. Once work resumed, I was able to continue my APPE learning experiences. To more clearly outline the activities of my third week, I can list three major topics that I learned, which include: interprofessional education, institutional research, and pre-pharmacy education.
I returned to work and immediately began to continue my meetings with the senior staff members. I met with Dr. Robert Kerr, AACP Vice President of Academic Affairs. We had an in-depth discussion about his role in the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) Institute. IPEC’s main role has been creating core concepts that can be incorporated into interprofessional education. During the IPEC conference, these concepts are then taught to teams from various institutions of learning who can then go on and develop interprofessional curriculum with evidence-based outcomes. We talked about how teams of 3-5 people from different health education schools from each institution signed up to attend this meeting and learn ways to build more functional interprofessional programs for emerging healthcare professionals. Dr. Kerr told me that throughout his career he has fought for interprofessional education because he has noticed that it is important to expose students of differing professions to one another in a simulated setting because it creates a sense or familiarity and normalcy between professionals when they work together in a future healthcare setting, which is becoming more and more team-based. Doctors and nurses will be more comfortable with the presence of a clinical pharmacist in a hospital critical care unit if they have been around student pharmacists while they were students. More importantly, when healthcare providers work together for a patient more effectively, then this improves the overall wellness of a patient. Upon discussing this meeting with my preceptor, Dr. Jennifer Adams, I was informed that pharmacy is the profession that is leading this movement toward interprofessional education. IPEC is a meeting hosted by pharmacy associations, but includes other healthcare professions, thus the pharmacy profession is spearheading this transition of education students about team-based approaches to patient care and educating the other healthcare professionals on how to achieve goals of incorporating this into a curriculum successfully.
I realized after my discussion with Dr. Kerr that a sociological change is occurring in the health system of the United States. Doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and dietitians who are exposed to pharmacists providing patient-centered, pharmaceutical care on a healthcare team are more likely to accept pharmacists in a wider variety of practice settings and institutions. I believe this is a sociological and cultural shift because non-pharmacy healthcare providers are recognizing that pharmacists provide services that they didn’t know were missing. When the perception of need exists, then utilization of pharmacy services will follow. Incorporating interprofessional education could expand the role of pharmacists as well as create more of a demand for pharmacist positions in hospital institutions that do not currently provide adequate pharmacy services. I was impressed with the work AACP is doing on this matter, and the intent to educate AACP members on how to be more effective educators of interprofessional curriculum was commendable. I will continue to learn more about other efforts to incorporate interprofessional education into schools of pharmacy around the country.
I also met with Danielle Taylor, the AACP Institutional Research Manager. She educated me about the national surveys that are conducted by AACP. Danielle administers and analyzes eleven major surveys that range from the AACP Tuition Survey to the AACP Funded Research Grant Survey. She told me that many of the surveys gather data on what is called "perception information" because the surveys are representative of the perceptions of a given AACP member on a particular topic. For example, the Graduating Student Survey collects data on the quality of the education experienced by a graduating student pharmacist. My assessment of these surveys was that they are an important source of information for AACP members. Personally, I found it helpful to know the mean reported dollar amount that is owed in student loans based on information collected from graduating student pharmacists.
A given school of pharmacy could provide this information to pharmacy school applicants, or a school could use the AACP Roster and Faculty Salary Survey to decide on the salary of newly hired faculty members. The work Danielle produces taught me that a research component to a national association is needed in order to satisfy the needs of members. By collecting data and compiling information, quality can be assessed for a topic such as curriculum or financial aid. This data could aid in decision making for the administration of a college of pharmacy when trying to make decisions that will help students become better pharmacists. I believe research is important because it allows AACP to be informed when change arises. The national surveys are definitely useful tools in determining where pharmacy stands on a variety of issues.
The last major event of my third week involved a presentation given by my preceptor, Dr. Jennifer Adams, to a classroom of students at George Mason University. I aided in a presentation that involved educating undergraduate students about the profession of pharmacy. It was quite an interesting activity to look around a room of students, some alert while others slept placidly. This was a course that educates students about health professions, and many of the students were in their first or second year of college; therefore, with appropriate guidance and education, some of these students may be interested in becoming a pharmacist. My preceptor allowed me to talk about my journey into pharmacy school, and I also discussed my non-traditional curriculum at the University of Mississippi where we conduct problem-based learning more heavily than emphasizing didactic teaching approaches. Dr. Adams did an excellent job educating students about the different career paths within pharmacy, salary potential, application processes, pharmacy licensing, and ethical considerations of pharmacists. Her ability to communicate the changes that have occurred in pharmacy practice was exceptional, and I watched the students’ faces ponder in thought or lift in surprise at some of the topics Dr. Adams discussed.
As I reflected on the experience, I realized how powerful it can be to introduce a new thought into a student’s head. Many of the students had not decided on a career path, but after the discussion these students can make a more well-developed decision about a potential career path once they are given the facts about the pharmacy career. I think freshman and sophomore students are a crucial age group because many undergraduate students have not yet decided what career path he or she would like to take, and this is an opportunity to recruit individuals into the pharmacy profession.
From this experience, I learned that public speaking is an art that is refined with time and consistent utilization of this skill. I am comfortable speaking in front of people about my profession; however, I have many things to work on if I want to be a more effective orator. Hands moving madly in the air, the use of the word "um," and rambling are definitely inconsistencies that tend to crop into my speaking style. I plan to continue to be aware of my flaws and work harder to be a better communicator. This will be valuable if I become a faculty member some day, and I will be in front of students on a daily basis.
After week three, I successfully increased my knowledge about interprofessional education, institutional research, and pre-pharmacy education. I learned that pharmacy is at the forefront of incorporating interprofessional education into the curriculum of schools all over the nation, and I think it promotes a team-based approach to how patients are cared for; concurrently, interprofessional education is also shifting the culture of healthcare teams to incorporate pharmacists and improve our integration into a team that will work better to improve patient outcomes. I learned that institutional research provides data that is a crucial source of information for AACP members, and the results of surveys also help in identifying changes in information that could be helpful with decision-making in various circumstances. I also have a better understanding of how important it is to reach out to pre-pharmacy students. These students are in a transitional period where undergraduate students can be informed about the pharmacy career and educational lectures can act as a great recruitment technique to bring them into our field.
In the upcoming week, I will attend an AACP Board Meeting. The opportunity to witness the leadership of this organization will educate me about governance, which is a subject that I need to learn more about in order to achieve a higher understanding of the functionality of AACP. I also am interested to hear their conversation about current issues facing pharmacy and listen as they discuss the AACP strategic plan and how to move forward in completing organizational goals. I will also continue to work on a project that will establish a resource for financial aid information for student members. Additionally, I will continue to bring forth professionalism and an open mind so I can learn as much from this experience as possible.