By: Nandini Puranprashad
This year we had an awesome turnout of 17 attendees representing the American Pharmacist Association Academy of Student Pharmacist (APhA-ASP) chapter of St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions at the APhA 2012 Annual Meeting & Exposition held in New Orleans from March 9th – 12th, 2012. New Orleans boasts the second largest convention center in the country so you can bet there is a lot to see. The APhA theme this year was “Driving Connections, Transforming Patient Care”, which brought together pharmacists, new practitioners, residents, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians from across the country to share information and discuss the future of the pharmacy profession. Here are some of the highlights of my experience.
The APhA Exposition is a one-of-a-kind marketplace to visit and explore over 150 exhibiting companies and organizations. As APhA attendees, we were able to meet face-to-face with industry leaders from Amgen, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and many other companies from the industry. Students had the perfect setting to ask about each company’s products, inquire about research and drug development and explore other opportunities. The attendees also met organizational representatives from the FDA, ASHP, Pharmacist Letter, Pharmacy Times, LexiComp, and many others to discuss their services and receive free samples or products. We also talked to pharmacy employers that offered jobs nationwide such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, pharmacy retail chains, Asereth Medical Services Inc, and the International Society of Travel Medicine. Walking by all the booths at the convention center is sure to get you tired, so APhA provided some tasty snacks throughout the day to refuel ourselves and free massages to relax the travel weary attendees.
After we finished browsing through the different booths of the convention center, we went to a student information showcase on post graduate residencies, where we met representatives from PGY1 community pharmacy residency programs and other postgraduate training programs nationwide. We also participated in a round table discussion with residency program directors where we got to ask questions on interviewing skills and preparing CV’s. One of the events which I think every pharmacy student should see is the open hearing on Proposed Resolutions and New Business which is like the political platform of student pharmacists. It was interesting to listen to student pharmacists from all over the country as they shared their thoughts on the APhA 2012 proposed resolutions such as Expansion of Schools and Colleges of Pharmacy Relative to Pharmacist Demand, Proper Medication Disposal and Drug Take-Back Programs, Training Program for Post-diagnostic Pharmacist Prescriptive Authority, Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) Practices and how these resolutions affected the practice of pharmacy in their state. After this event, we had a chapter dinner at local restaurant where everyone talked about the things they did at the convention.
Before the convention started, we got the chance to do some sight-seeing around New Orleans. If you ever find yourself down in New Orleans for a weekend, I would recommend to do a Swamp Tour to see some alligators and wildlife, or see a city tour to learn about the history and culture of New Orleans or a Ghost Tour where you’ll hear tales of the Big Easy’s history that are strange but true, and of pirates, prostitutes and assassins that have all played a part in the creation of this colorful place. The spirit of Mardi-Gras which took place two weeks ago still lingered in the air in the French Quarters, especially on Burbon Street where you’re guaranteed a colorful nightlife. One of the things I’ve enjoyed on my New Orleans trip is the Southern hospitality; the colorful and flamboyant atmosphere of this city is very distinct from NYC’s urban hustle and bustle. I encourage each and every one of you reading this article to join in on the next APhA annual convention which will be held in Los Angeles, CA from March 1-4th,, 2013. I promise if you make your experience worthwhile by exploring everything a convention has to offer, you’ll have an amazing time.