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Week 4: Bittersweet
Week 4: Bittersweet
August 26, 2013 – August 30, 2013
 
Throughout this past week, I have spent the majority of my time diligently working on finishing the data analysis for my final project on the Academic Leadership Fellows Program (ALFP). With the presentation scheduled for 10:30am on Thursday, I was on an absolute hard deadline to finish the analysis and create the presentation using Prezi, a program I have never used before. Feeling the pressure, my thoughts were mostly consumed by my progress on the project and had little time to think about much else. However, when I gave the presentation Thursday morning to the staff, I knew my hard work and dedication had paid off. Not only was I able to complete all the data analysis I had ambitiously strived for, but the entire staff expressed a genuine interest in the content despite the fact that many of them are not directly involved with the ALFP program. This support connects back to my reflection from a couple of weeks ago. As I mentioned previously, this staff is like no other I have encountered before. They embraced me with open arms into their AACP family on the first day and that support and invested interest from all members of the staff has continued throughout my time at AACP.
 
After completing the presentation, I returned to my desk and reflected on what had just happened. Not only had I reached my goal of completing all the data analysis I challenged myself to achieve, but the support from the staff left me feeling proud of my accomplishment. Still feeling too excited to focus on any specific assignment, I began to reflect on my overall experience at AACP and all the memories I have created during my month here. I had high expectations prior to arriving at AACP and this experience has been everything I had hoped for and more. As I have mentioned time and time again, the staff at AACP are wonderful and I believe this is what sets this experience apart.
What I have come to value most from my experience are the individual conversations I have had with the various staff members, their insight on the profession of academic pharmacy, and the advice they have shared as I take my next steps in my professional development. Through these conversations, I am becoming more comfortable with my options and no longer feeling the pressure to “choose the right one.” Instead, I think each experience has something unique to offer that no other experience would be able to match. So it is no longer about “choosing the right one”, but rather choosing the best one for me.

Professional development is a constant never-ending process. So while my next step post-graduation is still to be determined, I am more confident thanks to the guidance from AACP staff that whatever my next step, it is only one step of many in my path. The fact that there are many paths to take on the road to becoming an academician use to frustrate me – how do I know which is the best one? But what AACP has helped me to accept is that these are paths of opportunity and to appreciate the path I travel rather than worrying about the final destination.
 
My experience at AACP this month has helped to shape not only my professional development but also broadened my exposure and understanding of academic pharmacy. Whether it be through various conferences and meetings or one-on-one conversations with the staff members, I have learned more about academic pharmacy than I ever thought possible in such a short time. One lesson I am taking away from this experience is to not be afraid to ask questions and reach out to those who have accomplished your own goals and ambitions. With each conversation I have held with an AACP staff member, I have walked away with more insight and knowledge involving academia. They have all been eager to answer any question I have and assist in any way possible, whether that be directing me to someone else who is more informed on the subject matter or connecting me with professionals who have experienced the various paths I am considering. So as I say goodbye to this amazing experience, I have learned to not be afraid to reach out to other professionals. Pharmacy is a small world so odds are if someone does not have the answer to your question, they know someone else who does and can put you in contact. So as I close out my final day here at AACP, it is a bittersweet ending for me – I am sad as I am not quite ready to leave but I am more confident, informed, and excited about my next steps in my professional development.

Jackie Zeeman
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
PharmD Candidate | Class of 2014

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