This is a guest post from Kimberly Hill, PharmD Candidate. She shares why every student should go to a pharmacy conference (even if you have an exam!). Enjoy!

This year, I was blessed with the opportunity to become the next APhA-Asp Patient Care Vice President at Pitt. What does that even mean?! I interviewed and was chosen for this position from Pitt’s APhA-Asp Electoral Board (E-board). I had absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into. All I know is that I was thrown into spending $1000 with a few clicks of a button on plane tickets and hotel reservations. What for? The APhA 2017 Annual Conference. Why the $1000? Well, because it was in San Francisco, California. To a person who has never been out west, I had no idea what to expect – especially the prices of everything. THANKFULLY, with this position at my wonderful school, I will be refunded most of what I spent. My duty is to attend the Annual Conference in order to learn, bring back my new knowledge, and better Pitt’s APhA-Asp chapter. I had a reason to be going. I found a new passion within pharmacy for myself, and I now want to run for regional and national positions within APhA-Asp. I NEVER knew I would get this much out of just one conference…

The following is a small excerpt from my reflection at the Annual Conference:

During the Annual Conference, I was required to participate in events for leadership training and the different project organizations that are a part of APhA-Asp. During the Patient Care Vice-President Workshop, I learned that collaboration and communication are extremely important characteristics of this leader, whom I will eventually become. Having these connections to the rest of the E-Board and the healthcare community will ensure that our Patient Care projects are successful.

I have also learned the steps involved in planning and implementing these projects: initiation, planning, communication, evaluations, reporting, and building relationships. Each separate step fits perfectly into the whole process. The first three steps of initiation, planning, and communication are self-explanatory in the sense that every project should involve these steps at the very beginning. In addition, I have learned that it is also important to evaluate each project and how it went: was it cost effective, was it well attended, and most important, what is the opinion of the patients and community members who attended the event. I have learned that my position is not just to watch over the project and organization leaders, but I also need to interact with the patients and community members to determine what they really need and want. Their feedback is the most important! This should have been obvious to me, but I am thankful that it was stressed as much as it was during this presentation. There was also advice given on reporting and building relationships not just with patients, but also health care communities around Allegheny County. It is important for these relationships to continuously be improved and upheld in order to have the greatest success of our projects.

I believe the most important thing I have learned at this Annual Conference is that you should never peak. Once you reach your current goal, and you will, you need to immediately set another one. It does not matter what your current goal was, there will always be room for improvement and to reach even further. Our careers are ever evolving, which leaves so much room for us to innovate and change health care for the better. The one thing I will always remember is that this will never end. Being a leader is not just about improving ourselves, but it also includes improving and mentoring our successors. In order to ensure the wonderful, innovating, and patient-centered future of pharmacy, we must encourage our successors to go above and beyond.

…crazy right?! I got all that and even more from my time in California. Who knew that an opportunity like this would be given to me? Who knew that I would want to run for a national position? Who knew that I would become this passionate about pharmacy at a national level? I sure didn’t. This opportunity would have never arisen if I didn’t make the decision to become a member of APhA-Asp. This opportunity would have never arisen if I didn’t become involved in Pitt’s chapter. This opportunity would have never arisen if I didn’t attend the meetings where I learned about the leadership positions.

My advice to you? GET INVOVLED! Doesn’t matter what it is or if you’re even interested in it – do it ASAP! As soon as you step foot in your new “pharmacy home” for the next 3 to 4 years. Want to know why it doesn’t matter if you’re not interested? ….do you think I was interested in leadership on a national level my first day of pharmacy school? NOPE! Didn’t even cross my mind. I took the leap, and you should, too. Will it matter if I actually make it to be elected for a national leadership position? Not to me! Will I try my absolutely hardest? Of course! But I always try to remember – in pharmacy school, it’s not all about the grades, the internship, the rotations, etc. It’s about what you learn along the way.


Thank you for taking the time to read. I look forward to hopefully seeing some of you within APhA-Asp very soon! Or even at my school of pharmacy 🙂

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