A STUDENT IS ALL IN THE NCPA
WEALTH, POWER, AND FAMEare the primary measures of perceivedsuccess in American societytoday. When pharmacy students lookout into their futures, or new graduateslook to potential career paths,they have a tendency to pursue anopportunity that will bring them oneor more of these options. What moststudents miss, however, is that seekingmultiple opportunities throughouttheir academic careers, instead ofseeking a single opportunity at theend, is the real key to success (andsometimes comes with the aforementionedperks). It was through mywork with the National CommunityPharmacists Association (NCPA) studentchapter at the University ofSouthern California that I found mypassion for the pharmacy profession.
By the beginning of my secondyear, I had decided that I wanted towork in the independentpharmacysetting and be anowner one day. Eventhough I had made adecision on a specificcareer choice, I wasdetermined to continueseeking variousopportunities forgrowth within the field so I would beconfident that this is where I wanted toend up. Projecting 3 years ahead tograduation, I made a decision to becontinuously involved with NCPA inhopes of increasing my knowledge ofownership and keeping pace with theprogression of independent communitypharmacy practice. By May ofmy second year, I was elected NCPANational Student President-Elect.This guaranteed that I would remainintimately involved with NCPA untilgraduation. October 2004 markedthe beginning of my presidency andthe opening of a myriad of doors tovast opportunities.
During my term as National StudentPresident with NCPA and a summerrotation at their headquarters inAlexandria, Va, I was given the opportunityto influence the career choices ofother pharmacy students all over theUnited States. I was also allowed toaffect decision-making regarding thefuture of independent communitypharmacy as a whole. I helped start anNCPA student chapter at the Universityof the Pacific School of Pharmacy inStockton, Calif, that would go on tobecome the first-place winners at theNCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student BusinessPlan Competition in 2005.
I made presentations on entrepreneurshipto students attending theMcKesson Trade Show in Washington,DC, and the New Jersey PharmacistsAssociation Convention in AtlanticCity, NJ. I sat at a Pharmacy ServiceTechnical Advisory Coalition meetingto listen and give input on the developmentof new procedural terminologycodes to bill for pharmaceutical careservices, or what we now call medicationtherapy management services. Ialso sat on the committee of the PharmacyValue Alliance that was chargedwith changing America's perception ofthe value of a pharmacist and the misconceptionof drugs as merely a commodity.This group consisted ofnumerous upper administrative stafffrom all walks of pharmacy, fromindustry to independent.
Between traveling and committeemeetings, I spent a lot of time supportingother NCPA student officers at othercolleges and schools of pharmacyacross the country. I served as a liaisonbetween NCPA headquarters and StudentRegional Council/Student LeadershipCouncil members. I spent a significantamount of time editing andupdating a chapter operations manualthat is mailed out to any school that isinterested in starting a new chapter. Ialso conducted phone interviews withnew practitioners who have becomerecent owners, documenting the pathsthey took and choices they made tobecome a pharmacy owner soon aftergraduation.
Traveling to different cities throughoutthe country to make presentationsand sitting on multiple high-poweredcommittees seems like a lot of fun and agreat opportunity, but only if you areinvested. A lot of the travel consisted offlights the evening before a scheduledpresentation or meeting, and anotherflight right after that meeting. Many ofthe committee meetings lasted the entireday. To be realistic, it was no vacation.
Witnessing what would soon be myprofession and having a hand in changingit, however, was the most exhilaratingthing in the world. Being fortunateenough to bring a student and futurepharmacist's perspective to the table onnational issues that would affect anation of independent pharmacists andpharmacy owners was an experience Iwould never trade.
In recollection of the whole experience,the most fun I had was meetingstudents from different colleges andschools of pharmacy. When a studentwould approach me with their fears ofbeing an owner, I received full compensationfor all of the time and energy Iput into this position by watching thesame student walk away even moreambitious and confident about theirfuture as a pharmacist.
Mr. Sedrak is the immediate past presidentof the student chapter of the NationalCommunity Pharmacists Associationat the University of Southern California(USC) School of Pharmacy and is aPharmD/MS regulatory science candidateat the USC School of Pharmacy.