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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 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
 
Week 3: Transformation
Week 3: Transformation
April 21 – April 27

The first real expo I attended was during my first year of pharmacy school.  It was the APhA Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.  It was the largest collection of booths and exhibits I had ever seen and what was the most astonishing to me was that each one was giving out something for free.  Not just pens and candy, but actual valuable items like umbrellas, books, and even a jar of salsa!  Like a kid in a candy store, I was overwhelmed and began to grab as many things that I could fit in my free bag without making much conversation with the people at the booth.  After the weekend I just had, I can definitely say that I have a greater appreciation for those who showcase at these large exhibitions.
 

 
This weekend was the 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival (USASEF) at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC.  The purpose of this 3-day festival was to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to people of all ages with more than 3,000 hands-on activities geared towards K-12 students from over 1,000 participating organizations.  It was estimated that over 250,000 people attended the last festival and more than 325,000 attended this year… so as you can imagine, this was a very huge event.  AACP showcased at this event for the very first time to promote to the profession of pharmacy to all attendees.  Our booth featured a compounding activity where attendees can make their very own lip balm to take home.  Our goal was to show people a different area of the pharmacy field by introducing them to pharmacy compounding.  We also promoted our“Pharmacy is Right for Me” campaign which targets young students to explore pharmacy as a career.
 

 
There are really no words to explain the amount of planning, preparation and labor that went into our exhibitor booth this weekend.  Although Katie Owings, Manager of Student Affairs, had been preparing for quite some time now, I joined the team three weeks before the big event where most of the preparation stages occurred.  I helped order and gather the supplies needed for the lip balm compounding activity which included lanolin, aloe vera, oils and tubes and obtained supplies like beakers, graduated cylinders, hot plates, etc. borrowed from Howard University College of Pharmacy in Washington, DC.  We also held a small prepping party at the office where staff members could assist in the weighing and packaging of material. After that, we had to pack, load and set up our booth which was definitely no small task by any means.
 

 
When the USASEF website noted that exhibitors in the past recorded an average of 6,000 – 10,000 visitors at their booth each day, they weren’t kidding.  Our lip balm compounding activity was wildly popular.  So popular to a point where we couldn’t even control the crowd of eager kids and anxious parents.  Attendees were able to melt and mix in all the ingredients in a beaker on a hot plate and pour it into a lip balm container.  They could walk away with their completed product and watch it solidify throughout the day into a ready-to-use lip balm.  It was great that so many attendees were excited about our activity but it became very challenging as we didn’t quite have the resources or manpower to handle the unexpected popularity.   After rationing but still running out of supplies, our booth had no more activity to attract attendees. 
 
 
Although there were still some people who were very interested in just hearing about the activity we had earlier, some attendees just came and grabbed our free items without as much as eye contact with any of us.  I know that’s what it’s there for, but it was a little heartbreaking that the attendees who grabbed them will never understand the amount of effort it took just to get all these items here for them. If I was not on the exhibitor side of this festival, I would have never known.  Next time I attend an exposition, I definitely want to be more engaging with the exhibitors and make a true effort to learn about what they have to offer rather than just submerse myself in free items.   That’s the least I could do for the amount of effort exhibitors make to just actually be there.



It was a very eye-opening experience to be on the exhibitor side.  While I wish I could be here in 2016 to help out with the next festival, the best I can do now is help AACP prepare for it based off of this weekend’s experience.  My next step right now is to help identify issues we ran into and propose solutions that could possibly solve these problems.  The better prepared we are for the next festival, the more smoothly things should run.  Although this experience has been quite exhausting overall, it was worth the smiles and excitement from the hundreds of kids who walked away with the lip balm I helped teach them to make…and I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

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

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