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Week 1 by Robin Parker

Reflective Essay: Week 1

January 14-19

Hello there, my name is Robin Parker and I am a 4th year pharmacy student at the University of Mississippi, here at AACP to complete my 6th rotation for the year.  Let me first establish, that although I am a well-traveled southerner, I have never lived in such a populated place, the biggest city I have ever lived in being Dyersburg, Tennessee, which is tiny – look it up.  Excited cannot even begin to describe how I felt once I learned I had been awarded this rotation, offered a new experience with endless possibilities, and that feeling remained up to my first moments stepping off the elevator onto the 2nd floor office space.  Being greeted by a room of smiling faces, my nervous stomach calmed and I felt at ease, eager to meet everyone and put names to faces.
Breakfast was on display, heavily influenced by what I am assuming were New Year’s resolutions, fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, and bagels, which worked out perfectly, as adopting a healthy lifestyle was a resolution of mine.  Then the mingling began.  I worked my way around visiting with the most impressive group of people that could possibly fit in one room.  Each person contributes something so unique to AACP, and they are each the expert in their area, so the conversations consisted of me asking a ton of questions, and them trying to finish their breakfast between answers.
Meeting with Jen in her office began with her explaining the organization of AACP, and how its members are divided and their respective roles.  As she talked, I began to realize just how impressive my surroundings are: I am a student here at the only academic pharmacy organization in the nation and I have an inside look on how our entire country’s pharmacy education is influenced, from meetings to curriculum, directly effecting how graduates perform as professionals.  Although this organizational rotation is clear about what is expected and required of each student, there is flexibility with respect to what interests the student, whether it be research or advocacy, giving clarity as to where each student should direct their efforts.  This realization made me come to the conclusion that this rotation is going to be exactly what I make of it.
Although breakfast gave me a brief moment with each member of AACP, individual meetings are needed to fully understand their role and their impact.  Overwhelming at first, I feel somewhat clueless, as I email each member at the office, asking for their time to explain their job.  Each person responds, more than happy to share their life experiences and how they obtained their current position.  As each person speaks, I cannot help but follow my mind as it wanders through the complexity of how I got to where I am, and more importantly, where I am going.  What kind of influence am I going to have upon the world of pharmacy once my schooling is finished?  What role do I want to play, both in my future job and nationally?  I believe that these things will become clear to me as time passes, and certainly as I continue to progress through this rotation.
My meeting with Dr. Lucinda Maine, the Executive Vice-President and CEO here at AACP, brought clarity to what I believed would be my mission as a student on rotation.  Before we began our “get to know you” conversation, she moved from the far side of her desk and sat beside me, making for a less formal, comfortable meeting environment.  Once I started talking, her eyes did not leave me, making me feel as if what I had to say was very important.   She spoke about her education, mentors, and career decisions.  By my age, Dr. Maine seemed to be climbing the pharmacy leadership ladder, already nearing the top.  As our conversation carried on, I noticed a packed suitcase in the corner of her office.  She informed me of a meeting she was going to attend dealing with the topic of interprofessional education (IPE), a subject that I dabbled in during my past two years in pharmacy school.  We talked about what IPE could and should be, as well as what it often is – two different professional programs in one lecture hall for a didactic lecture with no meaningful interaction between the professions incorporated into the course.  Then my ability to have influence presented itself, Dr. Maine asked me to write an article for possible publication presenting IPE from a student’s perspective.  My interest perked, and I realized that in a simple twenty-minute conversation, I learned where my attention should be focused, and I could hardly wait to walk from her office to my computer to get started on my task of vocalizing, from a student’s perspective, how IPE can greatly benefit students when it is offered in the right environment and in the right manner.
It is hard for me to believe that it is only my first week at AACP and my mind is fully stimulated and I am excited for the experience that lies ahead.  With my calendar already fully booked, I cannot wait to see where the remaining four weeks take me. 


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