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Week 3 - Perseverance
Perseverance
March 17 – March 21
 
This week I was fortunate enough to attend the AACP Leadership Retreat. This event brings together major leaders within AACP, including the Board of Directors, leaders of the Council of Sections, Council of Deans, and Council of Faculties, and AACP staff, to discuss developments within AACP, the current state of the organization, and future directions. The entire event was engaging and inspiring, and it was wonderful to see so many people who willingly give their time, effort and energy working toward improving pharmacy education. I met people from schools in all areas of the country and was fortunate enough to see their true regard for each other and for education.
 
One of the highlights for me was a trip to Mount Vernon. This trip was more than a tour – it included time in the new Fred W. Smith National Library, an impressive facility focused on the scholarship of George Washington and the Revolutionary Era. During our time there a historian spoke to us about George Washington and the traits and leadership skills he possessed that helped made him such an influential and effective leader. He listed a few qualities that George Washington embodied consistently throughout his life – character, vision, a strong sense of “the cause” or “the why” behind his actions – but the one that stuck with me most was his perseverance in the face of adversity.
 
The historian gave several situations wherein things did not always go the way George had hoped. He lost jobs, lost battles, and was overlooked for things he wanted. But in the end he kept going, perhaps driven by his understanding of “the cause” and his reasoning behind all that he did. But this also indicates strength of character, a sense of something bigger than himself, pushing him forward.
 
It struck me that this characteristic is an essential part of my life as a student pharmacist, and truly of all of us who seek to make the world a better place. There are a thousand obstacles standing in the way at any time – some big, some small, some easily ignored – but in the end it is often perseverance that makes them surmountable. This perseverance sets some people apart from others in their resilience, determination, and ultimate sense of “the why”. They have developed a reason behind what they are pursuing and this determination eggs them on.
 
In retrospect, perseverance has been an essential part of how I got where I am today. I took a winding route to get to pharmacy school, and I truly envy anyone who feels that pharmacy school does not come with at least some amount of adversity. Independent of academics, there are all the things that life throws at us that you cannot predict, cannot control and cannot resolve; they must simply be dealt with and life moves on. Without perseverance no student pharmacist would be able to walk across that stage and receive their Doctor of Pharmacy degree. All of us have our own battles to fight and difficulties to overcome.
 
In light of what is on the horizon for me, even just within the next few months, I foresee a definite need to call on this reserve of perseverance. I will be starting a residency this summer and definitively feel I am supremely fortunate to be given such an amazing opportunity. I would be ignorant to think there will be no challenges or difficulties in the months ahead, but rather than shrink from these things I must face them with perseverance, a la George, and not be afraid. Everyone has a different source from which they draw this energy and this sense of fight, but it is equally important for all of us to retain it throughout our lives.
 
In thinking about what is coming over the next year – graduation, moving, a residency – I will not lose sight of this vision and will constantly work to be the kind of person I want to be. This retreat showed me more than just the traits of George Washington. It showed me how people who are truly committed, not to themselves, but to advancing the field and providing better education for students and better care for patients, can make a profound impact on the lives of pharmacists across the country. I hope to be able to do the same – perhaps on a smaller scale, but that makes it no less valuable. There is a place for all of us in pharmacy, and I now have much more resolve to find this place for myself and, in so doing, become the best possible pharmacist I am capable of becoming.
 
Caroline Small
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2014
University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy

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