Student Pharmacist

Written by student pharmacists for student pharmacists, Student Pharmacist magazine provides the latest on career preparation, leadership, legislative activities and advocacy efforts, patient care projects, APhA–ASP Chapter innovations, life on rotation, tips from new practitioners, and more.

Conference on Conferences
Jamila Negatu
/ Categories: Student Magazine

Conference on Conferences

The “Conference on Conferences” was created in response to UW–Madison student feedback that attending local and national conferences can sometimes be intimidating.

By Hannah Hecht

Review the conference schedule. Iron and lint roll my blazer. Is my school badge visible? Wait patiently to talk with presenter. When is the appropriate moment to enter the conversation? I should mentally review my elevator speech. Remember that, when I get the chance, my handshake should be firm but not too firm. I should provide the presenter with my contact information. Why did I not buy business cards this year? They are free. Smile, take a deep breath, extend hand: “Hi, my name is …”

This hypothetical monologue emphasizes the mental checklist many student pharmacists run through prior to attending networking events, including poster sessions, showcases, or social gatherings at professional conferences like the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition and the APhA–ASP Midyear Regional Meetings (MRM). Networking is a term that carries many different connotations. For some, interacting with other professionals is simply second nature and to others it is an intimidating task that may require their full attention and daily energy to complete. 

In response to student feedback in which students reported feeling the need for further professional development to develop the confidence to attend national and local conferences, the University of Wisconsin–Madison APhA–ASP Chapter brainstormed a unique event this past February titled “Conference on Conferences.”

The programming

We created the event with the hope that we could increase student pharmacist attendance at future national and state pharmacy conferences, eliminate some of the uneasiness surrounding networking, and ultimately instill in our members the importance on remaining actively engaged in the profession. The event was a mock professional meeting and had approximately 90 student attendees. We asked that students wear appropriate professional dress and treat it as a professional school event. 

Programming for Conference on Conferences included tips for understanding the art of networking, developing an effective elevator speech, etiquette during formal dinners, and a skit for maintaining professionalism in social settings. Students were also given the opportunity to practice the newfound networking skills they learned in a networking bingo session. 

This exercise had students leave their formal programming table and encouraged them to develop meaningful connections in a short timeframe. The networking bingo session was a very successful portion of the programming, as students were displaced from the comfort of their friend groups and had the opportunity to meet other students with whom they might not have 
connected otherwise. 

We were also very fortunate to partner with pharmacist presenters from our state professional pharmacy organization, The Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin. Lessons that were shared by speakers included the importance of mentorship, and embracing your calling by remaining engaged in the profession.

At the end of the event, many students reported that they felt more prepared and more comfortable regarding attending an upcoming conference. Feedback indicated that students would attend our conference again, but recommendations were made that residents, practicing pharmacists, and Faculty also attend the event. 

Conference ready

We were thrilled to hold a second Conference on Conferences this past October, prior to the MRMs. The theme in our second year of the event was “We are all just people.” We wanted to break down some of the barriers with networking and remind students we all are contributing members to the pharmacy profession, whether just students, just residents, or just pharmacists. This time, we expanded with more faculty and practicing pharmacists assisting us, and nearly 125 students and 25 pharmacists were in attendance. Our students are now more equipped than ever to proudly represent our chapter as rising professional student pharmacists at professional events.  

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