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AACP APPE Student Blog:  A Great New Way to Stay Connected to Academic Pharmacy

Have you ever been curious as to what a day in the life of an AACP APPE student is like? So have we!

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy is proud to announce that they are now accepting applications for APPE students who wish to complete a rotation and find out more about association work. Dr. Jennifer Adams, Senior Director of Strategic Academic Partnerships at AACP, is the primary preceptor for student pharmacists for the duration of their APPE rotation. Please email appe@aacp.org with any questions you may have about the AACP APPE or related topics.

*For rotations occurring in the fall 2013 and spring 2014 time frame, AACP will accept applications until Nov. 1, 2012. All applicants will be notified by Jan. 30, 2013 of their acceptance status.

This blog will serve as an innovative forum for students to post their weekly reflections about their experiences at AACP and provide unique insight into the great work that the association does for academic pharmacy. Feel free to post your comments/feedback/suggestions and we look forward to sharing our journey with you!

Week 1: The Art of Strengths Based Leadership
The Art of Strengths Based Leadership
September 2-September 5
 
Throughout my last 3 years studying at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, I have been introduced to and been provided with many experiences designed for students to discover of the art of teamwork in the healthcare work setting. These experiences range from classroom focused group work in the form of patient case SOAP notes to experiential education opportunities to an array of events and projects within student run organizations. In each of these teamwork settings, I have easily been able to identify which of my peers were better at certain tasks and adapt to work alongside those who may not share similar viewpoints. However, the word that is commonly forgotten in this correspondence is strengths.
 
Prior to arriving in Alexandria, VA for my Association management rotation at AACP, I was excited when asked if I had completed a Strengths Finder assessment. This assessment tool generates your top 5 strengths through completion of a series of paired of statements. The questions must be answered in 20 seconds and in most cases ask you to pick preferences that may not necessarily lie on opposite ends of the spectrum. I like that this model forces you not to overthink any question due to the time limitations nor allow you to easily remember and duplicate your responses between assessments due to the volume of questions.
 
My first time using this assessment tool was about this time last year for an elective course entitled the “Leadership Challenge”.  I took StrengthsFinder again in January of 2014 in preparation for a leadership conference, finishing the process with very similar results. It was not until after the second time I took this assessment, analyzed the validity in my determined strengths “off paper”, and then allowed these reflections to resonate that I really became fascinated with the concept and practice of strength based leadership.
 
My strengths were as follows:
 
September 2013: Woo, Communication, Achiever, Includer, and Connectedness
January 2014: Communication, Woo, Arranger, Connectedness, and Achiever
 
On my first day at AACP, one of the first things I noticed when walking by each staff members’ office was that below their name card lies a list of their top 5 strengths. Upon orientation with Dr. Adams throughout the day there was one conversation that continually stuck with me throughout my first week: “It’s nice walking into a meeting and knowing whom each person is and what they bring to the table”.  I stopped for a minute to really take in this seemingly simple concept, and realized that in many of my group and team based learning I rarely stopped and took the time to define each members’ strengths. Although it can be difficult to sum up a co-worker with 5 simple words, it can give others insight into how this individual thinks, acts, and communicates with those around them.
 
Throughout the rest of my first week I began my individual meetings with each Senior Staff member. I tried to enter each meeting recognizing the strengths each individual brought to the table and understand how each strength fit into their roles within the organization and even within that particular meeting. During each discussion, I continued to see a pattern of warm, friendly, and passionate team members working cohesively to continually offer the best for their members.  I continually asked myself, “What had helped create and shape such an effective working environment?”.  By Friday, I had finally come to the conclusion that each individual was strategically matched in capacities in which their strengths were maximized.
During my meeting with Vincent Lau, Vice President of Research and Graduate Education, we discussed his role with the New Investigator Award. Not only is he involved in the detailed review of applications, but has initiated efforts to increase training for recipients in the program and continually follow up with each investigator throughout their career. After obtaining a glimpse into his desire to help further the education of such a select group of learners through a very strategic process and program, I was not surprised to find his top strengths were as follows: Relator, Strategic, Learner, Analytical, and Responsibility. Throughout our meeting we discussed many of the other projects he is involved in within AACP, with each comprising of tasks centered around a common theme: his top 5 strengths. It was very apparent that Vincent did not purposefully mold his work around his assessment prescribed top 5 strengths, however found a role in which he could capitalize upon his strengths to do his part in helping advance the profession of academic pharmacy as a team member at AACP.
 
So far I am only a few days into my month long journey at AACP, but I could not be more excited to continue to work alongside Dr. Adams and the rest of the AACP team. In moving forward with my next week, I am setting a goal not seek to improve upon my weaknesses, but to work in capacities and projects where I can best contribute and develop my strengths. In moving forward with my future APPE’s and in pursuit of further education, I plan to transfer the value I have placed in the StrengthsFinder assessment within the Association into my methodology on approaching the application process for residency/fellowship programs. After observing the importance of successful strengths based leadership teams this week, I plan to pinpoint programs in which my personal skill set can serve as a unique asset to further a program’s patient care initiatives. However, I must also seek a learning environment in which I can cultivate my existing strengths as the framework for my growth into the best new pharmacy practitioner that I can possibly become.
 
Quote of the week:
“You cannot be anything you want to be- but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”
- Tom Rath, Strengths Finder 2.0
 
Lauren Clouse
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
Pharm.D. Candidate, Class of 2015
 
Week 6: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
Week 6: Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah
May 12 – May 16

For this last entry, I have the pleasure of being able to reflect on both my entire time at AACP and also my time as a pharmacy student.  It’s my last day of my very last rotation and in two weeks, I’ll be graduating with my Doctor of Pharmacy degree!  It’s unreal, actually.  Not only did these six weeks fly by, but these three years of pharmacy school passed in a blink of an eye.  One thing I have learned throughout the course of pharmacy school is to seize opportunities as they come and to experience as much as you can while you can.  At the beginning of pharmacy school, I could have never seen myself living in a state clear across the other side of the country for rotation.  If I never took that chance to apply, this experience with AACP would have been missing from my life.
 
It was truly an honor to be selected to complete an association management rotation with AACP.  I always have envisioned myself as a professor in the future so being able to experience a new realm of pharmacy education was extremely refreshing.  Not only did I have the opportunity to learn more about the association, but the best thing was that I was able to experience it around an amazing group of people.  The AACP staff have taught me that the success for any association, or any project for that matter, is to have a strong team.  I’m grateful to be able to take the words of wisdom about teamwork and leadership from those that I have met here and apply it to the next stage of my life.
 
Hillary Aphaisuwan
PharmD Candidate, 2014
Midwestern University College of Pharmacy—Glendale
Week 5: Whistle While You Work

Week 5: Whistle While You Work
May 5 - May 9


As my fifth week in comes to a close, I realized I only have one week left to enjoy the beautiful weather (albeit unpredictable at times) and to explore the unique assortment of shops on King Street.  This also means that I only have one week left to squeeze out the most that I can out of my association management rotation at AACP.  It definitely feels like time has flown by!  At times, I wish I can just freeze time to allow me to get all done that I wished to complete during my time in Alexandria, Virginia.

This week has been mostly working on my projects and ensuring that I will be able to make my deadlines next week, especially since I have two comp days from the Science Festival and will be using them (friends and family are visiting!).  I’ve never been good at just sitting at a desk for 8 hours at a time completing tasks.  I love variety which is why the last two weeks of traveling have been extremely exciting for me.  However, this week my desk was overflowed with yellow sticky notes.  The strategy that always worked for me in a setting like this was to write down a list of what I needed to accomplish.  Not only would I just write a complete list, but I would categorize it by priority and even write a separate list for each day.  If I felt myself falling behind, I even broke it down by hour.  Doing this allowed me to feel a bit more accomplished every time I crossed an item off and it also kept me on task.

Another one of my priorities this week was to identify areas of the association I still might not understand completely and seek out those that will be able to assist me.  Jen has developed a very comprehensive rubric to evaluate my performance and understanding of association management that will be able to help me identify these areas.  While going through the rubric, I realized that I have forgotten some of the detailed information I learned about AACP’s programs and services since reading about them during my first week here.  Now that I have met all of the senior staff members and learned about their roles and responsibilities, I think it is important to revisit all of that information from my first week. I feel like I will be able to come to a complete full circle with this method.  Looks like it’s time to write my to-do list for my very last week at AACP (and for my very last week of pharmacy school!)

Hillary Aphaisuwan
PharmD Candidate, 2014
Midwestern University, College of Pharmacy – Glendale

Week 4: There's Room for Everyone
Week 4: There’s Room for Everyone
April 28 – May 2

It’s already the beginning of my fifth week here at AACP and I can’t believe how fast time flies.  As I finally recovered from the USA Science and Engineering Festival, it was already time for my next off-site event—the AAMC 10th Annual Health Workforce Research Conference.  I don’t know how AACP staff members are able to keep up so much energy traveling from place to place for these conferences, expos, and festivals.  Here I am, exhausted from only two events that were both in Washington D.C. and required minimal travel on my part.

The focus of the AAMC 10th Annual Health Workforce Research Conference was to bring together researchers, educators and policymakers to help discuss state and federal workforce issues.  The conference had previously invited only physicians to attend, but this year it was opened up to all health professions.  Although others were in attendance, the conference still had a strong physician presence.  This conference was definitely different than most I have been to in the past.  Typically, the conferences I attend focus on pharmacy and include student programming that appeal to my interests.  All the presentations at this conference centered around workforce, an issue I never really explored beforehand.

One presentation that definitely stood out to me was on the pharmacy workforce.  The speaker stated that the supply of pharmacists has continued to increase while demand has decreased.  To help with this issue, she stressed the underutilization of pharmacists and urged physicians to take advantage of the clinical capabilities of pharmacists.  Some of the information cited was also provided by the Aggregate Demand Index, a project supported by the Pharmacy Manpower Project Inc. and one that AACP is also involved in.  It was great to see that the data collected by the organizations working with the Pharmacy Manpower Project Inc. was utilized outside of the typical pharmacy setting!   I also appreciated that someone other than a pharmacist was supporting this notion and thought it was a great presentation to have at a conference like this.

Once questions from the audience began to roll in however, I realized that there are many physicians out there that aren’t completely aware of the background education of a pharmacist and the expertise we could offer.  This made me recognize the importance of interprofessional education and collaboration within the health care field.  I think it was a great move on AAMC’s part to include other health care professionals in this workforce research conference and I really believe that the presence of other health professionals will make a positive impact as they continue to hold these conferences.

Although interprofessional education is integrated into many health profession curricula, I don’t feel like we have taken that to its fullest advantage.  Now that graduation is less than 30 days away (!!!), the time may have passed where I could have taken advantage of learning from and with the other health professionals at my school.  However, what I can do in the future is to stay informed just as I would do with the pharmacy field.  I think the best course of action is to build strong connections with other health professionals I work with where I can learn more about their profession as well.  My desire is to completely understand their responsibilities, their capabilities and their role in a patient’s health care. What I learn about other health professionals would reflect what I would want others to understand about my own role as a pharmacist.  With this information, I believe we would become a stronger health care team for patients.  This would ultimately allow me to become a better pharmacist and health care provider to all of my patients.

Hillary Aphaisuwan
PharmD Candidate, Class of 2014
Midwestern University, College of Pharmacy – Glendale
 
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