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Week 1 - It Was the Best of Times
It Was the Best of Times
March 3 - March 7
 
My rotation at AACP began with a snow day. For a girl who did her undergraduate work in Southern California and is going to pharmacy school in New Mexico, this was the ultimate treat. I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen so much snow! I know for DC it wasn’t the biggest of storms but for me it was an excellent time to think about the opportunity I had been afforded by coming to AACP, agonize over my residency rank list, and get excited about my time in DC. By Tuesday morning I was ready to jump in to my new assignments and AACP did not disappoint. I was immediately given several projects to work on, which is just the way I like things, and everyone was so welcoming, gracious, and downright nice that I was even more excited to dive in.
 
A couple of my projects revolve around the AACP Walmart Scholars Program. As a former AACP Walmart Scholar myself, I was especially interested in these projects and learning more about the foundation and goals of the program. The Walmart Scholars Program provides funding to student-mentor pairs to encourage and develop the student’s interest in pursuing academic pharmacy. Students are from a number of disciplines, including the social and physical sciences, pharmacy, public health, and other fields of study. These student-mentor pairs together attend the AACP Annual Conference in July, where they take part in the Teachers Seminar as well as the other events at the meeting. This meeting seeks to grow the students’ interest in academia and, along with their mentors, guide them into finding their place in academic pharmacy.
 
While delving into the role of mentorship and how AACP Walmart Scholars view the program’s influence on their interest in academic pharmacy, I started thinking about my own vision of academia and the program’s effect on my personal goals. I had written my summary of the program’s impact several months ago, but changes happen at a rapid rate during the fourth year of pharmacy school and I couldn’t ignore that my thoughts on academic pharmacy had changed. How, then, had this change occurred, and what was my new vision?
 
Further thought found me acknowledging that academic pharmacy is not the only time or place where education occurs during pharmacy school. Education is happening constantly via faculty, staff, administration, community leaders, other pharmacists interacting with students, and the students themselves. Mentors in pharmacy are everywhere and these people have a dramatic influence on students’ perception of academic pharmacy and the field as a whole. I cannot deny that my first manager at my community pharmacy has made me far more efficient, detail-oriented, and patient-centered than I was. Similarly the influence of my research advisors during my second year of pharmacy school showed me how dynamic and engaging a career in academic pharmacy can be, with myriad avenues for growth and development, while acknowledging the commitment such a career involves.
 
Pharmacy education extends far beyond the classroom and anyone can be a pharmacy educator, even if they are not part of the academy. It is the job of every pharmacist to mentor, to educate, and to lead, and all of us should be willing and prepared to take on that role upon completing our education. This may involve acting as a preceptor, being an unspoken mentor for a student or technician, or speaking to high school, college, or student pharmacists about your job and your role in healthcare. There are myriad ways to promote pharmacy, act as a role model and educator, and embody and embrace the vision we hold for the future of pharmacy.
 
For myself I am even more excited to take that next step. While a career in academia remains my ultimate goal, I acknowledge that I can actively choose to be a pharmacy educator whatever my title. I look forward to precepting, to being an unofficial – and official – mentor to student pharmacists, and to supporting and guiding those I work with toward the ultimate goal of improved patient care. I hope my role as an educator will continue to grow as my career develops. All of us can make this choice, to be a positive influence in the lives of upcoming pharmacists. I am delighted to take on this role wherever my career and life take me, and look forward to the changes and opportunities this month will direct and the future will bring.
Caroline Small
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2014
University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy

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