It is the evening of July 10, and I am waiting for the start of the APhA–ASP Summer Leadership Institute (SLI) cookout at APhA headquarters in Washington, DC. It was also the first event for the new Day of NP L.I.F.E. (Leadership, Involvement, Friendship, Empowerment) and I couldn’t wait to share and gain new experiences with my fellow new practitioners! I was ready to soak in the meaning of LIFE—gain leadership skills, become more involved, make new friends, and be empowered to advocate for the profession.
As I headed toward APhA’s rooftop terrace for the cookout, I realized that I had experienced this very feeling before: my first trip to Costco! Yes, really, Costco. When you get to APhA headquarters, you identify yourself as a new practitioner member and just like that, the doors open to endless intangible and worthwhile benefits. You begin networking with fellow new practitioners, experienced pharmacists, and student pharmacists who are there for SLI. Just like you, all of them are “shopping” the national offerings APhA has stocked in its inventory.
But my trip to “Costco” didn’t end there. I had another full day of NP L.I.F.E. the next day.
Rarely do national pharmacy organizations provide a full day of continuing pharmacy education (CPE), as well as leadership and personal development sessions targeted to their new practitioner members. I hopped from session to session, like the endless buffet of free samples you can always get at Costco on a Saturday morning.
The day began with introductions and networking with the attendees at our table. Attendees then listened to a session presented by Michael Spira, APhA Senior Lobbyist, and Jillane Schulte, APhA Director of Regulatory Affairs, to get us up to speed on recent legislative developments that affect the practice of pharmacy. Afterwards, author Shelley Row entertained us with a presentation called “Using your Gut: Effective Decision-Making in an Over-Thinking World.” It was such a lively session and even involved some fun role playing. Row provided strategies to overcome issues that every student pharmacist and new practitioner could relate to—how to decrease over-thinking and avoid knee-jerk decisions (not that I regret buying that “Everyday I’m Counselin” t-shirt from the APhA bookstore the second I saw it).
After lunch, APhA New Practitioner Advisory Committee Member-at-large Brigid Long, PharmD, provided strategies to market the role of the pharmacist in new health care delivery models and working effectively in a health care team. Feeling energized from her talk, attendees took a short break and after turning the corner from the meeting room, there it was—a free cookie! If you were excited about a “sample” that you experienced at NP L.I.F.E., staff members were more than willing to provide information on how to get more.
The last session of the day was a financial planning session where an experienced planner provided information about balancing paying off loans and saving for retirement. As the programming came to a close, which was like approaching the checkout line, the new practitioners didn’t want the day to end. Although attendees didn’t get a hot dog and soda for $1.50, or a Very Berry Sundae for the road, they did get to attend the NP L.I.F.E. Social Hour in the hotel lounge and go out to dinner. It was a great day and I formed many new friendships.
I can’t wait for next year! If you will be a new practitioner in 2016, then I hope you will join us. As my colleague Sam Houmes, PharmD, of Baltimore, MD, said, “Attending CPE and new practitioner events are vital toward a pharmacists’ professional development. Networking enables the new practitioner to be exposed to new ideas and opportunities they otherwise may have never encountered.” This is sound advice to heed.
Oh, as a disclaimer, Costco does not endorse me in any way. I pay my annual membership dues to Costco so I can indulge in free samples and rotisserie chicken.