By: Jena Marion, Pharm.D. Candidate c/o 2013
I have traveled a lot these past few years. I have packed and unpacked suitcases, measured three-ounce bottles of liquids, and printed plenty of boarding passes. Most of my trips were for business, but a few were for pleasure. Pharmacy, however, followed me along on each one of my journeys.
My first trip this year took me up north to Buffalo, NY for the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacist (APhA-ASP) Region 1 Midyear Regional Meeting. As the outgoing Region 1 Member-at-large, I helped to set up events, run educational sessions, and network with an entire region of student pharmacists. My term as a regional officer taught me a great deal about multitasking, communication, and time management. It also rewarded me with experiences and friendships that I will treasure long after my college years. My fellow regional officers taught me about patient care, policy, advocacy, and our pharmacy profession as a whole; in turn, I shared my passion for pharmacy and enthusiasm for professional involvement.
Shortly after returning from Buffalo, I reunited with many of these same people in the bright, lively city of New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA) for the APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition. Each year’s meeting seems to top the last one, and my time in NOLA was no exception. I kicked off the weekend with a “tweet-up” at the APhA Opening General Session, and had the opportunity to live-tweet the results of the APhA-ASP House of Delegates to some of my new followers. By watching student pharmacists advocate for the issues affecting our profession today and using social media to share our messages, I could not help but envision ways that pharmacists will soon use the internet to advocate for our profession to colleagues, legislators, managers, and even our patients.
I also had the chance to represent the St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in the National Patient Counseling Competition. The experience of having a microphone clipped to my white coat and a hidden camera watching my every move while counseling was one that I will not soon forget. However, as a few dozen of us waited outside the counseling room for the results, I felt camaraderie with my fellow student pharmacists as a group committed to patient care and education. In addition, although I did not make it past the first round, it reminded me of how critical our jobs are as pharmacists to maintaining the health of the public and keeping our patients well.
As the weekend ended, I sat surrounded by students and professors at our annual chapter dinner. As we spoke about the sights of the city and shared the things that we learned over the course of the meeting, I felt honored to be sitting among a group of pharmacists and student pharmacists dedicated to this multi-faceted profession. Students attended sessions about Medication Therapy Management (MTM) and new drug therapies, and professors attended sessions focused on the achievements of student chapters from across the country; in both cases, the new perspectives taught us much about our shared profession.
I was excited to escape class, rotations, work, and the everyday grind for a bit. Just as the warm weather set in over New York, I packed my bags for a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. I quickly learned, however, that escaping pharmacy was not an easy feat! At breakfast on the second day at sea, I met an elderly man, traveling with his wife, who had diabetes. We chatted about metformin and insulin over omelets that morning. On the fifth day, while soaking up some sun on the beach, I met a couple whose daughter also attended St. John’s University. We started talking about over-the-counter (OTC) sunburn remedies, and then covered everything from video games and cooking to our favorite New York sports teams in an hour-long conversation. I only knew each of these people for a few short moments, but after they discovered that I was an aspiring pharmacist, they opened up to me with stories about their health, families, and lives. Even after spending nearly six years working and rotating in numerous different pharmacies, I still find these experiences humbling.
Now home and ready to begin the next chapter of my education, I have no plans in the immediate future for travel. For the next few months, I can only fondly remember my experiences traveling the country creating memories. These experiences remind me why I wanted to become a pharmacist in the first place. I want to:
- Have the chance to mentor others in the same way that I was under the wing of my pharmacists, professors, preceptors, and friends;
- Become a positive agent of change as an advocate for the profession of pharmacy, working with others to mold it into a profession that I will soon be proud of and excited to practice; and
- Educate the public about medications and health conditions – a resource for my patients as one of the most accessible healthcare professionals.