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Week #2: Interim Meeting Kickoff by Sharone Aragon
The "I" in Leadership
February 3 – February 7
February is here and at AACP that means it is Interim Meeting time! The Interim Meeting (IM) is focused on the deans and assistant deans of pharmacy schools around the country. IM14 was focused on “The I in Leadership,” which included the themes of the individual, innovation, inspiration, imagination and influence. I prepared for a long weekend of meetings and sessions, but was excited for the new people I would be meeting and the new information I would be learning.
Before the kick off of IM14, there was an AACP Board of Directors (BOD) meeting that I was invited to attend. I was surrounded by deans and faculty from pharmacy schools around the country. My first thought was, “What am I going to talk to all these people about?” Well, continuing with the trend of fellowship and welcoming of my AACP experience, I did not have to worry much about that. Deans and faculty members were coming up to me and welcoming me to their meeting! They were interested in what I was learning at AACP, why I chose a rotation in association management/academia and what my future career plans were. I was flattered by the attention I was receiving from the board members and it reinforced the fostering, supportive environment AACP creates for their students, staff and members. 
Another topic on the BOD agenda involved the Pharmacists’ Patient Care Process, which was developed by the AACP along with 11 other pharmacy organizations that includes the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). The document was created in response to inconsistencies found in how the pharmacy care process is taught and practiced in schools of pharmacy and pharmacy practice settings. The process would standardize the process of care in the delivery of patient services by a pharmacist. It is a patient-centered, team-based model that promotes interprofessional collaboration and defines the role of the pharmacist as part of a health care team. The population has a general idea of what a pharmacist does, but it is very limited to the standard retail pharmacist definition. It sets the foundation for services that pharmacists have the training and knowledge to provide and get compensated for. This document highlights the evolution of the pharmacist from behind the counter to a more clinical role in providing direct patient care. It can be applied across all pharmacy settings as well. I like that this document highlights how the pharmacist is an essential member of the health care team and expands the narrow definition the population perceives about the role of a pharmacist. This consistent framework for pharmacist care is not a step-by-step checklist to complete with every patient, but provides guidance on what we can do to improve outcomes in our patients. I currently work in a retail pharmacy and I plan on critiquing how I currently practice my role as a pharmacy intern and see how I can make changes to fit the Pharmacist Patient Care Process that is currently in development. I am hoping that I provide well-rounded care similar to what is in the draft, but I’m sure there will be some tweaking needed.
The main highlight of the BOD meeting was the discussion on the development of a serious gaming initiative for the health professions, similar to other role-playing games currently available. The intention of a serious game is to educate and train, using gaming as an educational tool. The idea is to simulate and promote interprofessional education and collaboration. A student pharmacist would create an avatar and complete missions (case based challenges) with other students in up to 16 health care professions. Along the way, team members would need to communicate with each other to complete their missions. Right now it is in the developmental stages, but this game has the promise of expanding globally for use by practitioners for professional development. I am interested to see what a mission will look like and how students will interact within the mission. The development team has created an expert panel, consisting of professionals from the other health professions, which is key to the success of this gaming initiative. There was a general feeling of excitement for this new venture by AACP coupled with feelings of trepidation and caution due to the investment and the risk associated with the venture. This initiative is innovative and captures the essence of the changing learning style of students; however, it has not been attempted before. Peggy Piascik, the current AACP President, calmed the fears from academic leaders by saying that “success does not come without risk and that the risk of failure should not stop AACP from continuing on with the project.”
This statement struck me, not in relation to the game, but in terms of my own fear and anxiety I have about my career path. I am reminded of what J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, said, “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all, in which case you failed by default.” I have been waiting to graduate for 4 years and now that it is finally here, I cannot lie and say I am not a little nervous. I have a wonderful opportunity with the Rutgers Fellowship Program lined up for next year and I can’t help but think, “What if I am not good enough and I fail? Am I really ready for post-graduation life?” Although I already have 4 years of teaching under my belt, I need to make the transition from student to professional again. It will take me some time to get acquainted to my new role as a fellow, but like Peggy said, I cannot be afraid to fail. It is time for me to have a new outlook on taking risks and the possibility of failure. Failure is not as bad as we perceive it to be. Failure presents us with an opportunity to reflect on why we failed and how we can move forward from there. Does this mean I should take the ideas I have and just run with them? No. I need to step out of my comfort zone and stop making excuses for why I cannot do something. If I continue to let fear hold me back, I will never fully realize who I can become and what I differences I can make.
Note: This does not mean I will be jumping out of a plane or going bungee jumping any time soon. That is too much risk for me!
Sharone Aragon
Long Island University
Pharm. D. Candidate Class of 2014


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