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Week #1: My Top 10 Lessons by Sharone Aragon
Top 10 Things I Learned During My First Week at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)
January 22, 2014 - January 31, 2014
Hello out there! My name is Sharone and I am the current APPE student at AACP. Here’s a little about myself. I’m a P-6 (P-4 to all you 0 – 4 students) student from Long Island University in Brooklyn. Go Blackbirds! Before I started pharmacy school, I was an algebra-loving middle school math teacher in New York City. I would rap, wear costumes, or throw a math-themed party to engage my students in the day’s lesson. It may seem silly, but those strategies worked. Students are different these days, and the old way of lecturing and pencil and paper note-taking just doesn’t cut it anymore. I have sat through my fair share of those lectures, and let me tell you, it is not pretty or educational. This is why I am at AACP – to hear about the best teaching practices in pharmacy schools and to learn more about innovative teaching strategies in development.
Oh, another thing. I love lists. So, here is my “Top 10 Things I Learned During My First Week at the AACP” list:
10.   Turkey on banana nut bread is more delicious than you think. Try it. You won’t be disappointed. 
9.   Birthday parties are not just for little kids.  Adults love them too!
8.   You don’t actually know your ABC’s until you enter the world of pharmacy associations. 
7.   Progress and change do not happen overnight. Be patient.  
6.  Take surveys seriously. They could affect your future.  
5.   A pre-meeting makes the actual meeting more meaningful and focused.
4.  Working directly with drugs is not a requirement for being a pharmacist.
3.   There’s a committee for that. 
2.  Stop! Collaborate and listen.  
1.  Watch the gap.
When you enter the world of pharmacy associations, you better be prepared to speak in acronyms. Prior to arriving at AACP, I received my schedule for the 5 weeks of my APPE. I thought, “Awesome. I love knowing what to expect before I set foot in the door.” Then I opened up the document. It was almost written in another language – AC, NAAHP, BOD, IPC, IM, AM, OGS. That was just Week #1. I had all these places to be, but I had no idea who I was going to be meeting with or what they will be talking about. When I arrived, Jen made sure to let me know that she prepared a list of common acronyms for me to refer to. Now, I can SIAADL (speak in acronyms all day long).  
In a conversation I had with Jen, I asked her if she missed being a “pharmacist”? I did not mean that she was not a pharmacist, but her role at the AACP does not fulfill what most people think a pharmacist is. She told me that although she is not working with medications or patients directly, she still is a pharmacist. She does the behind the scenes work that no one thinks about like working on the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test) blueprint or PharmCAS (Pharmacy College Centralized Application Service) and improving interprofessional education which improves interprofessional collaboration. The work that is done by the pharmacists and other staff at the AACP strengthens the pharmacy profession and improves the quality of future pharmacists. Being here makes me regret not being more active in pharmacy organizations on my own campus. However, I know that there are still plenty of opportunities for me to get involved as a Pharm. D. graduate – as a preceptor, association member or faculty. This time around, I will not let the chance slip away.
In my first week here, I was able to learn not just what everyone’s role is, but how and why they plan to change the future of pharmacy education. “Watch the gap,” is a phrase used on the Long Island Rail Road to warn riders of the space between the train and the platform. It is announced several times before the train arrives to make sure riders don’t fall into that gap and hurt themselves. As I met with senior staff and learned more about each of their roles at the AACP, this phrase popped into my head. No, not because we talked about trains, but because it seemed to be a recurring theme in each of my conversations -- to find the gaps in pharmacy education and then figure out a way to fill those gaps to assure continued advancement of the pharmacy profession and societal health. My short experience here has showed me that following a treatment algorithm or medication regimen is not the only route to achieving that goal. As pharmacists, we must continue to fill the gaps in knowledge, no matter what setting we choose to work in. For example, there is a big push for interprofessional collaboration in health care. Through my interviews, I found out that the majority, if not all, senior staff members are involved in interprofessional education initiatives with members from various health care professions. I’ll go into more detail about this in my future posts!
There is strength in numbers, and that should be my mantra to be successful as a leader. The team work and collaboration I have seen at AACP shows me that my “it’s my way” attitude and approach to projects is not always the best way. I need to be more open to the ideas and opinions of those around me because I do not always have all the answers. I cannot just say I am on a team and call it collaboration, but I actually need to listen to what is being said by other team members and learn from them. So I am going to work on shifting from an independent worker to more of a team player. It is the direction healthcare is taking and a characteristic in all the leaders I have met here.
What else can I take away from these lessons? For starters, I’ll probably have more turkey and banana bread sandwiches.
Sharone Aragon
Long Island University
Pharm. D. Candidate Class of 2014


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