A CAREER IN ACADEMIA: UNEXPECTED TREASURE

Author: David Trang, RPh

I AM THRILLED TO HAVE THE opportunity to write this article to our future leaders in pharmacy. I am relatively new to academia but quickly finding out why Money magazine ranked college professor as the second best job in America!

My career path to academia was rather unconventional. As I reflect on my professional career, the past 7 years working in various areas of community pharmacy and management with Wal-Mart have been wonderful. Upon graduation, I worked as a staff pharmacist and was then promoted to pharmacy district manager. Most recently, I was manager of pharmacy and optometry recruiting and college relations at the Home Office in Bentonville, Ark. These experiences have been wonderful, and words cannot express how truly grateful I am to all my mentors, such as Arnie Fox and Paul Helm at Wal-Mart, for their leadership.

In these positions, the aspect of my job that I enjoyed the most was teaching and learning. As manager of professional recruiting, it was a privilege to interact with deans, administrators, and faculty throughout the United States. I was humbled by the skills and vision of these outstanding leaders. In fact, my experiences have allowed me to visit 36 states!

Academia brings its own challenges, and I am confident I will be up to the task. Although our faculty has been busy preparing for the incoming pharmacy class, there is a sense of calm. I attribute this to our dean, Arcelia Johnson-Fannin, PharmD, RPh, and the outstanding faculty that she has assembled. My teaching responsibilities include courses on pharmacy and health care systems, management, communications, and Spanish for pharmacists. Besides formal classroom instruction, there are numerous opportunities to teach students in the workplace and on campus.

Scholarship is also an essential aspect of academia. I am collaborating with our provost, Terry Dicianna, PhD, on a new academic program. David Maize, RPh, PhD, and I have been working on the development of an electronic portfolio software program with RxInsider that will help our students document their achievements and assess the desired outcomes of our curriculum. Students will eventually use their electronic portfolios for employment opportunities and continuous professional development even after graduation. The electronic portfolio also has the unique capability as a database to gather student and alumni data. Hopefully, other pharmacy schools and practicing pharmacists will benefit from this program.

Travel opportunities to conferences have also developed my knowledge and allowed me to interact with outstanding faculty at other opportunities. This knowledge will translate to continuous development of the course content, delivery, and learning for the student.

Flexibility within academia allows me to pursue an MBA in the international business program here at the university. My department chair, Mark Granberry, PharmD, has been extremely supportive of my scholarly activities. Interactions with faculty outside the pharmacy school have also been wonderful. Dr. Patricia Burr, a distinguished business professor, has invited me to travel overseas next fall as part of the MBA program. In collaboration with Dr. Amalia Mondriguez in the Foreign Language Department of the university, we are developing a Spanish course and program unique for pharmacy students and pharmacists.

Finally, service to the school and the university is important. There are opportunities to participate in a university health fair, usher at graduation, and serve on the school and university committees. I am honored to be a Board Advisor for Pharmacy Times and serve on the RESPy Selection Scholarship Committee for outstanding community pharmacy students.

I treasure the opportunities within academia as both challenging and rewarding. The flexibility allows you opportunities to participate and learn so many unique and wonderful areas in pharmacy, including community, military, research, clinical, or hospital, that enrich your life-long learning and professional development. I wish you the best in your endeavors, and as we like to say at Incarnate Word, "The Universe Is Yours!"

Mr. Trang is an assistant professor at University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy in San Antonio, Tex.