Building a foundation for new practitioners at the state level

New Practitioner Spotlight By Deanna Tran, PharmD, BCACP

After I graduated pharmacy school I began participating actively in state pharmacy associations. During my community pharmacy residency at Virginia Commonwealth University, I joined the Virginia Pharmacists Association’s Academy of New Practitioners (VPhA ANP). As a recent graduate, I was looking for networking opportunities, mentors in my field, and targeted continuing education (CE) sessions. I felt that getting involved in ANP would help fulfill these professional development needs.

Upon my return to Maryland after my residency, one of the first things I did was join several committees at the Maryland Pharmacists Association (MPhA). From my experiences with VPhA, I learned that many of the benefits of becoming active in a state association are intangible, such as friendships, professional relationships, improved communication skills and time management, and strengthened inspiration to advocate for our profession. I soon realized that my fellow New Practitioner members and I could also benefit from specialized programming just for us. After presenting and advocating for New Practitioner programming, I was grateful for the unique opportunity to create what is now MPhA’s New Practitioner Network.

Keys to success
Creating the network was a large endeavor and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it without a fellow co-chair. Together with one of my colleagues, Ashley Moody, PharmD, we created a focus group to determine the needs of our current and future members. We also surveyed student pharmacists and New Practitioners about their needs. We used the information from both the focus group and the survey to guide our efforts.

During the first 6 months, we focused on building the foundation. This included formulating the mission and creating three sub-committees. The Public Relations (increase awareness), Events (community service and social events), and Programming (professional development activities) sub-committees met on a monthly basis. Involvement with the three pharmacy schools in Maryland was also an important component to our structure because it is our mission to support the transition from student to pharmacist. Therefore, we requested that each APhA–ASP Chapter President in the state participate and appoint a student liaison from each school.

We also knew that marketing and branding would be a key to the MPhA New Practitioner Network’s success. We developed a logo and a tag line to consistently describe the network to others. Other marketing materials created included a one-pager about the network’s values and “Ask me about NPN” buttons for committee members to wear at conferences. To further create a presence in Maryland pharmacy, we worked with MPhA’s staff to add our activities and events to the MPhA website and social media.

Lastly, we began advocating on behalf of our fellow New Practitioners, such as incorporating a “New Practitioner” membership and registration rate at meetings and conferences. We also worked with the staff and executive board to include continuing education sessions for New Practitioners at conferences.

Success and growth
At the 1-year anniversary of the network’s inception, we had grown to 80 committee members who dedicated many hours to establish six social and networking events, two New Practitioner-focused CEs, and six outreach events. We also assisted in matching 13 New Practitioners with mentors through MPhA’s mentorship program.

The true success and extraordinary growth of the network was due to the collaborative effort and dedication of MPhA staff, executive board members, fellow MPhA committees, and our committee.