What keeps me coming back
While making travel arrangements to head to Nashville for APhA2018, I realized I would be attending my fifth APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition. I attended my first annual meeting as a third-year student pharmacist from the University of Cincinnati, and the experience has kept me repeatedly coming back for more.
So what is it about the annual meeting that keeps drawing me in?
The people factor
It may sound cliché, but it is the people that keep bringing me back! The APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition is different from other national meetings I have attended because APhA members are inclusive, promote each other’s strengths, and know how to have fun. The inclusiveness of the APhA membership was immediately apparent from my first annual meeting.
Even as a student pharmacist, there are multiple ways to get involved, both with APhA–ASP and with other pharmacy initiatives. If you have an interest, you can likely find it, and when you attend any event at an annual meeting, you will be greeted by people who are excited to have you there.
These events are collaborative and informative. Individuals are happy to share ideas and they are excited to hear what everyone else can bring to the table. Involvement opportunities are everywhere because APhA members support each other in professional engagement.
Speaking of support and engagement, I have been provided with opportunities for incredible professional growth thanks to my APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition attendance and engagement. APhA members support one another by promoting each other’s strengths and passions. Attending annual meetings led me to become involved with the APhA Immunizing Special Interest Group (SIG).
During APhA2015, I decided to check out the SIG’s business meeting. They welcomed me with open arms, and I quickly became involved with vaccine advocacy through the group. This year, I am pleased to serve as the Immunizing SIG Coordinator, an opportunity that again presented itself to me through annual meeting attendance. Last year, I also became an Ohio Delegate with the APhA House of Delegates. These meetings have fueled my passion to promote others to become involved with the Association and now I also serve as an APhA–ASP Chapter Advisor. Any of my students will tell you how much I believe in annual meeting attendance to further professional development.
Some fun, too
APhA has been amazing at helping me further my career and professional involvement. This alone could be the reason I keep returning, but the truth is that these meetings are fun! From the opening celebration to the closing reception, the social events are always incredibly entertaining.
The meeting has also become one of my favorite annual events to meet up with old friends. Every year I make time for friends from pharmacy school, residency, and previous co-workers. From a dinner out on the town, to celebrating my first employment position after residency, to celebrating my first publication, I have some truly spectacular memories from past APhA Annual Meetings. This just keeps me even more excited to return.
Invested in APhA
The APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition is not a professional obligation for me. It is an incredible experience that allows me to further my career, advance the profession, and gather with friends. I come back every year because I am excited to do so and I have become involved and invested in this incredible professional association.
My biggest words of wisdom, not just for student pharmacists but for all attendees, is to take every opportunity available to you. Attend educational sessions and learn from experts. Stop by a SIG meeting that intrigues you. Go rub elbows at a networking event. Meet new people, advance your career, fight for the profession, and most importantly, enjoy yourself!
I hope to see you in Nashville and at annual meetings in the future.
Jessica Hinson, PharmD, BCACP, is an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at the Ohio Northern University Raabe College of Pharmacy and a Community Pharmacist with ONU HealthWise Pharmacy.