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To lead or not to lead?

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LEADERSHIP

Whether you want to go into community pharmacy, clinical pharmacy, or explore the research avenue, the skills you use today as a leader will help shape your path for the future. As a future pharmacist, you will not only be in charge of patients’ lives, but also in charge of putting your leadership skills to the test on a day-to-day basis. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it make sense to get a head start on shaping these skills as a young, aspiring student pharmacist?” 


That’s exactly how I started my pharmacy career as a student pharmacist. 


Take the initiative 


As a first-year student pharmacist, I was sure about one thing: immerse myself in a pool of opportunities and be an advocate as a student leader. This past summer, I took a step out of my comfort zone and conducted a Capitol Hill visit in Washington, DC, advocating for the profession while attending the APhA–ASP Summer Leadership Institute. I had the opportunity to advocate for provider status legislation at the office of Rep. Barbara Comstock (R–CA). 


This experience not only helped me realize the impact a single person can have by simply taking initiative, but also underlined the importance of taking initiative, following my passion, and challenging myself to do something I haven’t done before. 


Say yes to opportunities


For as long as I can remember, I have always loved getting involved with the many organizations at school or in the community. I decided to serve as a Community Service Project Chair at the Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy and give back to those less fortunate. Whether it was volunteering to clean up a local highway or devoting time at the Jubilee Soup Kitchen Presbyterian Church in Winchester, VA, it served the same purpose, which was to give back to the community. 


While volunteering at a local medical center safety expo, I realized the difference I can make by devoting some time just within the community. This opportunity allowed me to teach children and respective families about different medication safety protocols and spread awareness on safe storage of medications, as well as proper medication dosing. 


Pay it forward


When I was a first-year student pharmacist, I appreciated having a mentor that I could always get in touch with in case I had a question or needed guidance. Throughout my academic year, I learned the difference a mentor can make in someone else’s life and therefore decided to pay it forward. I became a mentor for some underclassmen and helped guide their goals and aspirations. At the end of the day, I realize that these little things brought a great sense of fulfillment in my life. 


During my second semester of pharmacy school, I decided to expand my horizons by running for a position I didn’t think I would ever pursue. I decided to run for President-elect of our school’s APhA–ASP Chapter, which has become one of the best decisions I have made. As the current President-elect of the Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy APhA–ASP Chapter, I have learned many leadership roles and responsibilities that come with this position. I have tried to identify ways to address challenges that will facilitate growth and help our chapter reach newer heights. Learning these roles and responsibilities has not been easy, but as the saying goes, when there’s a will, there’s a way. Saying yes to this opportunity has allowed me to foster growth, both personally and professionally. 


Time to take action


Before starting my second year, I decided to put the things I learned the previous year into action. I took a position as pharmacy intern at an independent pharmacy. I believe there is no better way to shape your career in the world of pharmacy than practicing the skills you learn every day in school. This opportunity has provided me the ability to put my knowledge to test as a student pharmacist. 


If there’s any piece of advice I could pass onto student pharmacists across the country, it is to never stop looking for an opportunity. The profession of pharmacy is vast and the opportunities are unlimited. However, it is up to you to listen to the leader within you, to take a stand and advocate for the profession, and to be the future health care professional that patients need. 


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