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.