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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 - It Was the Best of Times
It Was the Best of Times
February 3 - February 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
Week #3: Shift Happens!
Shift Happens! You are the key to change!
February 10 to February 14
 

My third week at AACP was spent at the 2014 Interim Meeting (IM14) in Crystal City. The best way for me to summarize IM14 is to use a Wordle, a word cloud that highlights words that appear frequently in text provided by the Wordle user, which I was introduced to at AACP. The IM14 Wordle highlights the themes of IM14 – how to develop academic leaders to lead and manage the new challenges colleges of pharmacy are facing. These challenges include new pedagogies, interprofessional education expectations and new accreditation standards.
 
Key highlights and quotes from IM14:
• “If you react to change when it is on your doorstep, it is difficult; be prepared for change.” – Linda Cabe Halpern, Ph.D., Vice Provost for University Programs at James Madison University
 
• Rear Admiral Scott F. Giberson discussing the future of pharmacy practice and the potential pharmacists and physicians have on transforming health care
 
• Panel of community and retail pharmacy leaders discussing partnership opportunities between community pharmacies and academic institutions to develop residency programs that create pharmacists prepared to handle the changing healthcare environment and expand research opportunities
 
• Gary R. Matzke, Pharm.D., School of Pharmacy at Virginia Commonwealth University, sharing VCU’s approach to preparing current pharmacists and student pharmacists for Interprofessional Team Practice
 
• L. David Harlow III, B.S., Pharm.D., Chief Pharmacy Officer, Martin Health System, discussing the role of the “Primary Care Pharmacist”
 
• “Innovations in Teaching and Learning,” was presented by Holly Ludgate, Ed.D., who is a Senior Director for Program Development at New Media Consortium. Dr. Ludgate showed a video of a young girl who created a blog and video series on healthy cooking. This young girl, about 7 or 8 years old, was already experienced in using media and technology to teach others about her passion in the kitchen. Dr. Ludgate asked, “What if this was a student in your classroom?” She used the story of this young girl to emphasize that the days of “sage on the stage” teaching are gone and integration of technology and innovative teaching methods are necessary to keep up with the new students of today.
 

What I can take away from these sessions is that, “Shift happens! You are the key to change!” With changes in higher education and the healthcare environment, we need to be prepared. Part of that preparation involves strong leadership and motivating others to work towards a specific goal. A leader is not defined by status, hierarchy or titles. A leader is defined by the change they helped create and the leaders they developed along the way.

So will I become a leader over night? No, but I plan to find out what strengths I have and how I can develop them to lead and motivate others. It is easy to keep up with the same old routine, but sometimes, shift happens. I can complain about it and get nowhere or I can find the positive outcomes in the middle of all the shift. I choose the latter. What about you?

 
Sharone Aragon
Long Island University
Pharm.D. Candidate Class of 2014
Week #2: Interim Meeting Kickoff
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
Week #1: My Top 10 Lessons
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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