Last week I had the opportunity to attend the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida with several other CPHS students. While it was hard to explain to some people that we drove 10 hours to Orlando and didn’t even get to see Mickey or visit Harry Potter World, it really was an amazing worthwhile experience.
The program began on Thursday and continued through Monday, and let me tell you, our schedules were packed full! There was even an app for the meeting that let you pick and choose sessions to attend and create your own personalized meeting itinerary. Our days consisted of a variety of student oriented sessions including leadership workshops, new practitioner sessions, honor society meetings and APhA-ASP national officer elections. We were also able to mix in a few pharmacist sessions including the general session where we heard a former Surgeon General speak. At each session we were able to talk to someone new and learn something about our profession or APhA as an organization.
While going to a National pharmacy conference is a great opportunity for professional development, and networking, it is also (surprisingly) a lot of fun. The meeting had a lot of student programming, where the National officers put on quite the show. At the opening general session hundreds of student pharmacist from across the country gathered together as the National Officers took the stage singing Disney show tunes, and surprising *most* of them were quite talented. They were able to present awards for outstanding student chapters, while entertaining the crowd with their musical and comical talents. During the awards presentations we got to hear about the amazing work other student chapters had done throughout the year which was very inspiring, and made us all excited to bring ideas back to make our chapter of APhA-ASP even better! We also got to go to a big exposition where pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy’s, pharmacy contractors etc had booths set up with free samples and information galor. Each of us went home with several bags, pens, and enough Allergra to get us through the Spring!
Even though we were exhausted by the end of the day, we still made time to enjoy our evenings. On the first night APhA-ASP hosted a “Neon” party for students, chalk full of glow sticks and neon sunglass and even a photo booth. On Sunday night we were treated to a lovely dinner at Maggiano’s sponsored by Dean Maddox for CPHS students, residents, and faculty who attended the conference
One question you might have is, how can students afford to travel to these meetings?! At CPHS we are lucky enough to have the opportunity to have numerous funding resources available to help students get to National Pharmacy Conferences and have the opportunity to represent our school at these meetings. As a group we were all able to apply for conference funding through the Pharmacy Student Executive Board (PSEB), the Dean, as well as APhA-ASP (Academy of Student Pharmacists). Without their generous support we all may not have been able to have this amazing professional experience!
Another question you may have is, how can you miss 2 days of class as a pharmacy student!? Again, we are lucky enough to be at a school that really encourages students to get involved in our profession. Our professors granted us permission to miss class to attend the conference. All of our lectures are recorded so all of us could watch the classes we missed online. The P2s who attended the conference were even going to miss a quiz, but our professor , who was at the conference too, was able to administer the quiz to us on Monday morning in Orlando.
We came home to a lot of makeup work, and studying to catch up on, but the experience was well worth it. We all have a new outlook on pharmacy, and personally I was inspired to try to get more involved in our profession on a national level. I’m looking forward to many more professional conferences in years to come!
Class of 2016