Chelsea Phillips Renfro (third from right) and the mighty "Mean Green Machine."
By Chelsea Phillips Renfro, PharmD
Every spring, leaders from APhA’s three Academies—APhA–APPM, APhA–APRS, and APhA–ASP—and the APhA New Practitioner Advisory Committee (NPAC), get together for a long weekend to plan for the upcoming year. During this time, they focus on developing goals and objectives that will guide APhA toward achieving its vision of inspiring, innovating, and creating opportunities for members and pharmacists worldwide to optimize medication use and health for all. This year, I had the opportunity to attend as NPAC Member-at-large and represent new practitioners.
I had not attended the APhA Academies Leadership Retreat (ALR) as a student pharmacist, so I was unsure what the weekend would entail. I stepped off the shuttle at the conference center and was immediately welcomed by APhA staff. They informed us that APhA had revamped this annual weekend to allow for more networking and team building among APhA leaders. I was handed a green APhA t-shirt and told that I was now a member of the green team (later to become the “Mean Green Machine”). Throughout the weekend, there would be a healthy competition between the teams for prizes and bragging rights.
The one thing APhA staff did not inform me was that I would leave ALR energized and prepared to serve APhA membership.
Team-building and leadership skills
APhA President Nicki L. Hilliard, PharmD, MHSA, BCNP, FAPhA, and APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, kicked off ALR with an interactive Q&A session, where they answered questions regarding advice on being an APhA leader, APhA’s strategic plan, and the importance of APhA membership. When discussing the importance of APhA membership, Dr. Hilliard related membership to the service or WiFi on your smart phone. “While your smart phone is still useful without service or WiFi, you can accomplish more when you have it. APhA membership allows you to accomplish so much more,” she said.
After the Q&A session, we were asked to split into our teams. Each team was designed to consist of members from all three APhA Academies and NPAC. When we weren’t developing our leadership skills or planning the upcoming year, we were participating with our team in games from Minute to Win It, Kahoot!, APhA trivia games, or a scavenger hunt around the conference center. The healthy competition soon turned heated as each team battled it out to win points for their team and claim bragging rights for coming in first place. I am proud to stay that the “Mean Green Machine,” with help from student pharmacist team members Andy Stone (APhA–ASP Policy Standing Committee member), Janhavi Punyarthi (IPSF Student Exchange Officer & International Standing Committee member), and Kara Provence (APhA–ASP National Executive Committee Member-at-large), came in second place!
Bridging the gap
The opportunity to connect with APhA–ASP student leaders reminded NPAC to keep student pharmacists in mind when developing our goals for the upcoming year. We developed two goals: establish the APhA New Practitioner Network as a resource for professional and personal development of new practitioners, and promote active membership of all APhA new practitioners.
We hope to find ways to interact with student pharmacists from their first to final years through:
- Designating a new practitioner liaison to the APhA–ASP Communications and Member Engagement Standing Committees.
- Hosting a webinar on transitioning from student to new practitioner.
- Attending APhA–ASP Midyear Regional Meetings.
- Serving as APhA–ASP Chapter New Practitioner Mentors.
- Conducting outreach geared toward student pharmacists.
I cannot wait to continue working with new practitioners and student pharmacists over the next year, and I am excited to see what we can accomplish!