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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.

Keep your connection to the pharmacy community
Jamila Negatu
/ Categories: Student Magazine

Keep your connection to the pharmacy community

By Sarah G. Haley, PharmD

Hi, “Ami”! As a preceptor and a new practitioner in community pharmacy, I truly resonate with your rotation reflection. I, too, fell in love with the fully accessible provider role of pharmacists that inspires unique relationships with patients. I have experienced the powerful impact of that very tangible relationship with many of my patients in my practice. When I was a student pharmacist, I also fell in love with the dedicated advocacy of the pharmacy profession to advance legislation that improves patient care. Finally, I echo the earnest desire of your preceptor to facilitate a rotation experience of mutually beneficial learning.

Pharmacists are the last health care stop—the safety net—in what is often a long line of patient frustration and uncertainty. Pharmacists’ accessibility in serving on the frontlines of patient care perfectly positions us to be “Caregiver, Problem solver, Advocate, Learner, Educator, Leader, and Provider.” These defining aspects you have observed on your pivotal rotations are embraced by pharmacists across the spectrum.

Paying it forward

You ask some excellent questions that speak to an inspiration for continued professional association involvement and legislative advocacy beyond pharmacy school. For that, I wholeheartedly commend you. The transition from student pharmacist to new practitioner poses adjustment challenges and financial obstacles. Many pharmacists do not maintain association membership. As a result, they lose a crucial connection to a greater professional community and a collective voice for advocacy. I admit, it is easy to get caught up in the seasons of life, but never forget what sparked your passion for pharmacy.

My involvement with APhA and the APhA New Practitioner Network is largely separate from the daily demands of my community pharmacy work environment. It is an extracurricular involvement that I choose to pursue because of my passion for the profession, the opportunity to network with other colleagues, and my desire for continued personal growth as a practitioner. I value the benefits of membership and the opportunities for involvement. Specific to my practice, the timely and concise membership communication resources assist me in educating my pharmacy team, my patients, and my students. As a preceptor, I like to use APhA resources such as the Pharmacy Today e-mails as inspiration for topic discussions within daily pharmacy workflow. APhA membership also provides streamlined access to advocacy for key national issues, namely pharmacist provider status.

Since graduating from pharmacy school, I have had the privilege of serving as the New Practitioner Mentor (NPM) for the University of South Florida (USF) College of Pharmacy. Pouring into the lives of the students to help drive their professional growth and leadership development has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being an NPM. Their passion and fresh perspective have been so inspirational and invigorating for me as a pharmacist. My ongoing collaboration with the student pharmacists continually reminds me of my purpose as pharmacist “Leader” and “Educator.” As a student pharmacist, I benefited from the influence of leaders and practitioners who invested in my future. Now, APhA has equipped me to pay it forward.

The NPM role is largely what you make it, while maintaining a balance with work schedule and obligations. I have enjoyed being fully immersed in many of the USF APhA–ASP Chapter events, including supervising health fairs and brown bag events, presenting at various workshops and chapter meetings, and cheering on the students for state level pharmacy competitions. This involvement has served to hone my communication and clinical skills in my own practice.

In addition to APhA–ASP, APhA has two additional Academies—APhA–APPM and APhA–APRS. The Academies house more focused Special Interest Groups (SIGs) to join for participation in topic forums and updates. My advice is to fully explore the different options. Start on the homepage of pharmacist.com, click on “Get Involved,” and browse under “Member Groups.” You can sign up to network and participate in SIGs to enrich your practice. Just as rotation experiences have helped determine your interest in specific areas of the profession, so can the Academies and SIGs guide your association involvement as a practitioner.

By participating in these groups and using your membership resources, you are staying connected to APhA’s mission regardless of the amount of direct patient contact in your practice setting. You can still be a voice for pharmacy as a leader and source of information for your team, the medication expert in your field, an educator in your community, and an advocate on the Hill.

A passion for advocacy

As a practicing pharmacist and APhA NPM working alongside USF student pharmacists, my continued advocacy engagement with legislators and policymakers has been primarily at the state level. Each year, I develop an interactive legislative presentation for the APhA–ASP Chapter members to educate them on current bills affecting the profession. We then travel to the State Capitol to provide health care screenings and advocate during the Florida Pharmacy Legislative Days event. I attend legislative visits with the USF student pharmacists, assisting in conveying our shared message with perspective from my own practice setting. After each visit, I offer feedback to the students to debrief on the visit. It is a unique combination of two of my greatest passions—mentorship and pharmacy policy advocacy.

I encourage you to reach out to trusted mentors for additional perspective on your questions. Thank you for the opportunity to share in your journey to “hAPPEness” and offer some guidance. I wish you all the best in your next journey to new practitioner.

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Sarah G. Haley, PharmD, is a Pharmacist at Walgreens in Tampa, FL.

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