A CAREER IN ACADEMIA: UNEXPECTED TREASURE
I AM THRILLED TO HAVE THEopportunity to write this article toour future leaders in pharmacy. I amrelatively new to academia but quicklyfinding out why Money magazineranked college professor as the secondbest job in America!
My career path toacademia was ratherunconventional. AsI reflect on my professionalcareer, thepast 7 years workingin various areas ofcommunity pharmacyand managementwith Wal-Marthave been wonderful. Upon graduation,I worked as a staff pharmacist andwas then promoted to pharmacy districtmanager. Most recently, I wasmanager of pharmacy and optometryrecruiting and college relations at theHome Office in Bentonville, Ark. Theseexperiences have been wonderful, andwords cannot express how truly gratefulI am to all my mentors, such asArnie Fox and Paul Helm at Wal-Mart,for their leadership.
In these positions, the aspect of myjob that I enjoyed the most was teachingand learning. As manager of professionalrecruiting, it was a privilegeto interact with deans, administrators,and faculty throughout theUnited States. I was humbled by theskills and vision of these outstandingleaders. In fact, my experiences haveallowed me to visit 36 states!
Academia brings its own challenges,and I am confident I will be up to thetask. Although our faculty has been busypreparing for the incoming pharmacyclass, there is a sense of calm. I attributethis to our dean, Arcelia Johnson-Fannin,PharmD, RPh, and the outstandingfaculty that she has assembled. Myteaching responsibilities include courseson pharmacy and health care systems,management, communications,and Spanish for pharmacists. Besidesformal classroom instruction, there arenumerous opportunities to teach studentsin the workplace and on campus.
Scholarship is also an essential aspectof academia. I am collaborating withour provost, Terry Dicianna, PhD, on anew academic program. David Maize,RPh, PhD, and I have been working onthe development of an electronic portfoliosoftware program with RxInsiderthat will help our students documenttheir achievements and assess thedesired outcomes of our curriculum.Students will eventually use their electronicportfolios for employmentopportunities and continuous professionaldevelopment even after graduation.The electronic portfolio also hasthe unique capability as a database togather student and alumni data. Hopefully,other pharmacy schools andpracticing pharmacists will benefitfrom this program.
Travel opportunities to conferenceshave also developed my knowledge andallowed me to interact with outstandingfaculty at other opportunities. Thisknowledge will translate to continuousdevelopment of the course content,delivery, and learning for the student.
Flexibility within academia allowsme to pursue an MBA in the internationalbusiness program here at theuniversity. My department chair, MarkGranberry, PharmD, has been extremelysupportive of my scholarly activities.Interactions with faculty outside thepharmacy school have also been wonderful.Dr. Patricia Burr, a distinguishedbusiness professor, has invitedme to travel overseas next fall as part ofthe MBA program. In collaborationwith Dr. Amalia Mondriguez in theForeign Language Department of theuniversity, we are developing a Spanishcourse and program unique for pharmacystudents and pharmacists.
Finally, service to the school and theuniversity is important. There areopportunities to participate in a universityhealth fair, usher at graduation,and serve on the school and universitycommittees. I am honored to be aBoard Advisor for Pharmacy Times andserve on the RESPy Selection ScholarshipCommittee for outstanding communitypharmacy students.
I treasure the opportunities withinacademia as both challenging andrewarding. The flexibility allows youopportunities to participate and learnso many unique and wonderful areas inpharmacy, including community, military,research, clinical, or hospital, thatenrich your life-long learning and professionaldevelopment. I wish you thebest in your endeavors, and as we liketo say at Incarnate Word, "The UniverseIs Yours!"
Mr. Trang is an assistant professor at Universityof the Incarnate Word Feik Schoolof Pharmacy in San Antonio, Tex.