The project manager mindset
Since graduating from pharmacy school, my life has drastically changed. I went from being a student in class and studying for exams, simulations, or objective structured clinical exams to being a full-time PGY1 executive resident at APhA.
An executive residency with APhA is unlike most because it is an association management residency. I am now half-way through the year and more settled in my position, but the transition was a huge learning curve for me because many student pharmacists are not introduced to association management during the didactic years of their education. Like most residents or fellows currently working in association management, I discovered this opportunity while on my APPE rotation at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy. With only a 5-week introduction into the world of association management, I knew it was the perfect pharmacy setting for me.
This current experience allows me to apply my pharmacist-trained mind to innovative thinking in hopes of advancing the profession of pharmacy. Working toward the advancement of an entire profession will not only impact pharmacy professionals, but patients as well.
Hitting my stride
I would have never expected this to be my career path when I was at the Howard University College of Pharmacy, and now, I know why. Almost every single role and responsibility I have had during my time in residency has required me to quickly adapt and learn on the job. With a non-traditional role in pharmacy such as association management, I recognized that the administrative work is just as important as the clinical contributions. This is completely different than what is taught in pharmacy school.
For the past 4 years, I have had to have a non-stop clinical mindset. Now, I must develop a project manager mindset. This has been an extreme struggle for me because as a resident, I only have 1 year to make the most out of this postgraduate experience. Many of the projects I work on in the education department were most likely projects started by the previous residents. This can be stressful because not only is there an unfamiliarity with the scope of my responsibilities, but I also must gather enough information in the orientation weeks to confidently carry a project through. I have hit my stride and am now more comfortable when beginning new projects.
Battling imposter syndrome
I struggled with imposter syndrome as I went from student pharmacist to New Practitioner. This is mainly because as a student pharmacist, you are expected to take a back seat in meetings and learn. Now, I am expected to make verbal contributions and provide regular input. I love how my residency has empowered me to be vocal about my opinion, but I often still struggle with feeling like my opinion isn’t valuable. It has not been that long since I’ve left a classroom setting, so I imagine I will continue to feel this way for a while.
When overcoming imposter syndrome, the most important part is making sure you have people to support you that understand what you are going through. For me, that support group are my fellow APhA co-residents and fellows. I could not imagine navigating association management without them! Everything I’ve experienced, they’ve experienced.
Build your support group
Regardless of the setting you transition to from pharmacy school, you will encounter learning curves that school did not prepare you, but you can fight through it. My best advice would be to connect with those that are going through similar phases in life and start building your support group. All your hard work will pay off in the end!
Maya A. Harris, PharmD, is an executive resident at APhA in Washington, DC. She is passionate about helping to address barriers that exist for optimal patient outcomes in those that are under or uninsured. She also loves trying new restaurants, watching movies, and going on nature walks.