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Week 2 by Robin Parker

Reflective Essay: Week 2

January 21-25

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.

 

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