Your pharmacy “New Year”
I attended my first APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition during my second professional year as a student pharmacist in 2014. When I walked into the convention center in Orlando, FL, I was absolutely blown away! It was huge, magnificent, and I immediately started running into student pharmacists I had met before. There were pharmacists and student pharmacists galore, and I couldn’t wait to meet everyone in sight.
I used this meeting to attend informational sessions on patient care projects and APhA–ASP initiatives, network with fellow student pharmacists, learn more about where you can head in your career, and explore a fun city. However, I got so much more out of it than what I had initially expected!
I grew more passionate for the profession I was entering, attended a continuing education session on new drugs that came to market, saw how powerful our student pharmacist voices are by attending policy sessions, and so much more. My absolute favorite part of every meeting, especially the annual meeting, is connecting with people who love the professional of pharmacy as much as I do. As Marc Anthony says, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” and I couldn’t agree more.
Answer when opportunity knocks
I have experienced so many unique opportunities at annual meetings over the years. I will share a few of my favorites with you.
In 2015, I got to serve as a pharmacy superhero and run around the meeting in a cape to advertise all of the amazing work that the APhA Foundation does for the profession. I ran a 5k in a tutu with some amazing girls in Orlando and San Diego to support Women in Pharmacy. While I was completing an APPE at APhA Headquarters, I got to stand at the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board table in the Exhibit Hall and talk to people around the country about how valuable pharmacy technicians are and how important it is for them to be nationally certified. I volunteered at the APhA Government Affairs booth and helped attendees send electronic letters to their members of congress that encouraged them to co-sponsor the provider status bills. I also attended an APhA Foundation breakfast and sat at a table with past APhA Presidents and got to meet pharmacists being recognized for their incredible achievements.
When chances like this come your way, I definitely recommend that you take them!
The meeting magic continues throughout the year
However, annual meeting isn’t your only option for attending an APhA or APhA–ASP conference! When I attended my first APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition, I was serving as the Region 1 Midyear Regional Meeting (MRM) Coordinator. With this position, I was responsible for planning the APhA–ASP Region 1 MRM. Annual meeting inspired me to create a huge meeting feel with my small region and I encouraged everyone to meet as many people as possible during their weekend in Albany, NY. As you may know, there is an MRM in every region of the country each fall, so you have an opportunity to attend a meeting close to your school or college of pharmacy.
In addition to the MRMs, there is also the APhA Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies. This is an absolutely life-changing conference that helps you remove stigma from addiction and learn about the personal side of the disease from pharmacists who are in recovery. It takes place each June in Salt Lake City, UT, which quickly became my favorite city after attending this conference. If you have ever been lucky enough to hear the story of someone who is in recovery, the APhA Institute features this and even more sessions that will help you to become the absolute best pharmacist you can be. More information on the 2018 Institute can be found at aphainstitute.pharmacist.com.
Last but not least, there is the APhA–ASP Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) at APhA Headquarters in Washington DC, in July. Have you ever wondered where all of the APhA/APhA–ASP magic happens? It is at a beautiful building on Constitution Avenue right in the heart of the nation’s capital.
SLI is a meeting where a few representatives from each school and college of pharmacy spend the weekend in sessions to build upon leadership and personal development. But, it is not all work because you get to go on a tour of the APhA building and even go on a scavenger hunt around the National Mall. As you can see, APhA–ASP has immense opportunities to help you grow as person, student, pharmacist, and leader.
These opportunities don’t stop when you’re no longer a student pharmacist. I have attended several MRMs, annual meetings, and the APhA Institute as a new practitioner. While there is SLI for student pharmacists, there is a Day of NP LIFE for new practitioners. It embodies the same theme as SLI and is held on the same weekend. All new practitioners are welcome to attend this incredible weekend of professional and personal development, networking, and catching up with old pharmacy school friends.
So much for New Practitioners to enjoy
As a pharmacist, my favorite part of annual meeting is reconnecting with the friends I made when we were student pharmacists. We may be spread across the country now, but we always come back together for this meeting. No matter where we have ended up practicing, our home for pharmacy is still in APhA. Now, I head to the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition every year to enrich my career with continuing professional education credits and incredible networking opportunities. I also get to attend sessions targeted to young pharmacists through the APhA New Practitioner Network.
These sessions include financial planning sessions, roundtables on personal topics like buying a home, and how to be an incredible APhA New Practitioner Mentor for an APhA–ASP Chapter. As a community pharmacist, January and February are busy months with insurance changes and profile transfers from other pharmacies. So, annual meeting is a perfect reprieve from a hectic time. It gets me re-energized and I think of it as my pharmacy “New Year.” I can’t dream up a better event to get me more pumped about the profession and I look forward to it all year.
After my first meeting in Orlando, I decided I was never going to miss an annual meeting. I am so excited to head to my fifth meeting in Nashville. If you can’t make it this year, follow all the meeting coverage in Student Pharmacist and on APhA–ASP social media. That is enough to make you want to attend next year! The APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition will leave you inspired, empowered, and passionate. You will come back year after year, no matter how busy life gets. It will be your pharmacy “New Year” that preps you for a year of success.
I hope I will see you there!
Brianna Luft, PharmD, is a Pharmacy Manager at Walgreens in Yadkinville, NC.