SEPTEMBER 01, 2006
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos

THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) and Wal-Mart share a common goal: to help colleges and schools of pharmacy ensure that there are a sufficient number of well-prepared students who hope to pursue a career in academia. An AACP/Wal-Mart initiative is providing the opportunity.

The July 2006 AACP Annual Meeting and Seminar in San Diego, Calif, marked the second year for the Wal- Mart Annual Conference Scholarship Program. The pharmacy student scholarship program provided $1000 scholarships to 36 student-faculty pairs from AACP member institutions. The scholarships covered 100% of the students' registration costs and 50% of the faculty members'registration costs at the early-bird rate. The scholarships also covered registration for both the students and the faculty mentors to attend the Teachers Seminar. The winners were able to apply the remainder of the scholarships to airfare, lodging, and other meeting expenses for the students.

Wal-Mart announced at the 2006 meeting that the company would double its financial contributions for 2007. Lucinda Maine, PhD, RPh, executive vice president of AACP, said that with the increased funds, she anticipates 50 to 60 student-faculty pairs for the next meeting. The following are 2 firsthand accounts from students who were selected to participate in this year's program:


Thanks to this dynamic scholarship program with Wal-Mart and AACP, I was able to take part in the AACP Annual Meeting and experience it with my advisor/mentor from Drake University. If you are interested in becoming a faculty member or desire to become an academic pharmacist, then this is the meeting for you. The annual meeting is designed to help guide faculty members from colleges of pharmacy on becoming better teachers and mentors.

This was a great chance for me to see what it means to be an academic pharmacist. I, like most student pharmacists, only get to see the teaching aspect of faculty members'duties. I learned very quickly, however, that teaching is only a small piece of what academic pharmacists do. They also mentor student pharmacists and other young faculty members, partake in research or scholarship, and most participate in service activities—all the while keeping time for themselves and their families. The role of an academic pharmacist is very demanding, but I also saw at the meeting that it is one of the most rewarding fields in pharmacy. The passion and motivation these great pharmacists have comes from the personal rewards they receive, such as a phone call from a former advisee or a school teaching award.

Two very good reasons why every student should attend this meeting include opportunity and networking. Many pharmacists in a wide range of fields of pharmacy attend the conference, and you will likely find a professor who shares your interests with whom you can discuss career options.Maybe you can set up an academic rotation at another college of pharmacy or give your information to a residency director. The opportunities seem endless. I firmly believe, however, after attending this meeting, you will have a great deal of respect for all faculty members and have a newfound interest in academia.

I would like to thank AACP and Wal-Mart for the scholarship program that enabled me to be able to attend the meeting.This is a great opportunity for students and their mentors to get involved and a great opportunity for students to see how rewarding a career in academia can be.


As a pharmacy student, the million- dollar question thus far had always been: "Clinical or community pharmacy, which path should I choose?" I had toyed with the idea of pursuing academia in the past, but I knew very little about the area. Following a few meetings with my mentors Catherine Jarvis, PharmD, and Connie Valdez, PharmD, at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy, and getting a glimpse of what they do and what a career in academia entails, the realization that I could have a future in pharmacy academia began coming into fruition. My mentors encouraged me to attend the AACP Annual Meeting to help foster my budding interests in academia, and I was very fortunate to be one of the 36 recipients of the Wal-Mart/AACP Conference Scholarship.

The theme for the AACP Annual Meeting was "Sailing Toward Our Future Success," and for me personally, this title was very fitting. I discovered things that would have taken me a lifetime to learn on my own about topics ranging from teaching techniques, leadership, professionalism, the importance of networking and mentors, and balancing personal life and career. At the conference, I also appreciated getting to know the other University of Colorado faculty members on a more personal level outside the realm of the classroom. It was a privilege to discuss what motivates and inspires them and why they decided to pursue academia. I discovered that we all share a passion in teaching and giving back to a profession we are very passionate about and proud of. Meeting and relating to these amazing leaders in the field showed me that I too could pursue similar achievements. I found Wal-Mart's vision of supporting future faculty and pharmacy academia as a way to ensure the future of pharmacy to be innovative and brilliant. This experience has truly cultivated and strengthened my aspirations of a career in pharmacy academia.

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