Fulfilling my passion to advance the profession
As a student pharmacist, I always wondered what the difference between residency and fellowship was. Having completed a PGY1 community pharmacy residency and a fellowship in leadership and education, I can say that both experiences are unique in their own way. One gave me front-facing patient experience, and the other gave me opportunities to advance pharmacy education, research, and practice for the pharmacy profession nationally. During my academic leadership and education fellowship at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), I was fortunate to work with faculty members and pharmacy leaders across the country, national and state pharmacy associations, and most importantly, the dedicated staff at AACP.
As I was wrapping up my fellowship, a fantastic opportunity came about last month to continue my journey with AACP as the associate director of research programs and special initiatives.
Behind the scenes of association management
For those who may not know, AACP represents faculty and students enrolled in 142 colleges and schools of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. My AACP fellowship gave me an all-rounded experience in association management. I gained new skills, learned various aspects of pharmacy, and networked with national pharmacy leaders through collaboration on projects and initiatives.
Association management includes many behind the scenes tasks, such as collaborating with other associations to mobilize the profession, advocating for pharmacy within the interprofessional practice, planning and delivering successful conventions, supporting member institutions and member needs, and driving initiatives that strategically align with the association's goals. The association’s work reflects the constant changes happening in pharmacy to support faculty members, students, and pharmacists to continue playing a vital role in advancing pharmacy education and practice. Everything I contributed to and learned as a fellow has been extremely valuable, especially the collaborations and partnerships with other associations to meet the members' needs and advocate for the profession.
Because of the work of all pharmacy associations—national or state—the pharmacy profession can transform pharmacy practice and innovate pharmacy education to prepare student graduates and pharmacists as health care providers. In the light of the COVID–19 pandemic, associations came together with the same goal to help pharmacists and student pharmacists provide the best patient care and support within their communities.
A networking fan
With my new position, I am incredibly grateful to continue working in association management to fulfill my passion for advancing the pharmacy profession. My favorite part about association management is networking with fellow pharmacists at meetings, conferences, and workshops, where I enjoy learning about their career paths, the work they do, and find potential collaborations on projects.
My advice for those student pharmacists who are reading this article and want to explore different opportunities in pharmacy, find experiential rotations, internships, fellowships, and residencies in association management because they truly allows you to understand the holistic approach to the pharmacy profession.
Nidhi Gandhi, PharmD, is the associate director of research programs and special initiatives at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy in Arlington, VA. She loves exploring the outdoors, trying different cuisines, and teaching Bollywood dance fitness at Meri Sanskriti Academy.