Making the most of a virtual environment
It all started with a Facebook post. On July 24, I read a message written by Janan Amin, a third-year PharmD candidate at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, who was reaching out to find APhA–ASP Chapter members who might be interested in collaborating on planning events for American Pharmacists Month in October. At first, I wasn’t sure I should respond, but our only options this year were virtual events—what was there to lose? I thought: “Why not?”
I didn’t think much would come of it, but with just a few comments, the ball had started rolling.
Idea blossoms into an event
When we started this journey in July, we were strangers—five student leaders from schools across the country meeting in the already awkward Zoom setting to plan an event that we had no foundation for creating. The first meeting was a little uncomfortable, but somehow, we landed on the idea of weekly events throughout October. We started with the idea of networking and learning, and finally settled on panels. We thought: “Wouldn’t it be great to provide an opportunity for other student pharmacists to learn?” Even after the first meeting, I still did not know what to expect. Would this live and die as an idea?
But as I worked with other motivated, determined student leaders, this uncertain idea blossomed into an event. We met every few weeks until September and every week thereafter. Each Zoom meeting got a little less awkward, with a few more jokes, inquiring questions, and meaningful moments. By October, we were truly colleagues. Throughout the series, I learned many lessons, and it often felt like the events were as much for myself as they were for other student pharmacists.
Learning is a constant process
It is hard to summarize in a few words the inspiration and food for thought that was generated from these panels of distinguished pharmacists, all with their own unique stories and experiences. The panels were an influential reminder that learning is a constant process, and that it is our personal responsibility to tell our stories. Through it all, I gained many things: knowledge, wisdom, and reflection. I have always lived by the motto that “you get out what you put in,” and maybe sometimes you just get a little lucky.
Although it started with a Facebook post and a shared goal, it ended with five friends, many meaningful moments, and a successful American Pharmacists Month.
Nontraditional pharmacy: Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Advocate for your profession. Tell your story to everyone—your friends, your family, strangers, and policymakers!
Women in pharmacy: Make a kudos folder to remind yourself that you were made for this. Never underestimate yourself.
Pharmacy advocacy: Being a professional is not a job. Professionalism is a mindset, a
lifestyle, and the way you carry yourself.
From presidency to residency: Opportunities will find you in unexpected ways, so be ready
when they come your way.
Victoria Lam is a third-year PharmD candidate at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy.