NACDS GIVES STUDENTS TASTE OF PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCE
Assistant Editor, Pharmacy Times
Renee Larouche, Jenna Merlo, Anna Brekhman, and Hang Truong
Pharmacy Times held a roundtablefor pharmacy students duringthe National Association of ChainDrug Stores (NACDS) 41st AnnualPharmacy & Technology Conferencein Boston, Massachusetts, in August2007.
For the first time, NACDS invitedthe deans from local area pharmacyschools to select student leaders toattend the conference. NACDSoffered this 1-day Pharmacy StudentProgram for the first time to introducecurrent pharmacy students toopportunities in the chain communitypharmacy industry.
The roundtable discussion with 9student attendees was mediated byFred Eckel, RPh, MS, editor-in-chiefof Pharmacy Times and executivedirector of the North Carolina Associationof Pharmacists, and focusedon the students' feelings about theconference and if they felt it affectedtheir views about chain pharmacy.
All of the students agreed that theybenefited a great deal by coming tothe conference. Summer Bruchwalski,a second professional year studentat Northeastern University(Boston, MA), said that it was "a greatway for students to get involved," andshe was excited at the wealth of informationthat was available. She alsowas enthusiastic about the discussiontaking place about ways to fix theproblems in pharmacy today,"because these are the issues that[today's students are] going to bedealing with in a few years," she said.
Afton Yurkon, executive residentfor NACDS and 2007 graduate ofNortheastern University, noted thatthe conference was "a fantastic opportunityfor students to learn aboutissues that they do not normally seein pharmacy school, especially regulatoryand policy affairs issues."Jovonne Jones, a third professionalyear (P3) student at the University ofPittsburgh, was encouraged to see "alot of pharmacists...who have differentpositions throughout the...chainindustry. It is great to take the...information [we learn] in pharmacyschool...and actually see companiesputting it into action," she said.
Eckel then asked the students iftheir impressions of chain pharmacyhad been altered by their experiencesat the conference. Yurkon said shewas pleased at seeing the technologicaland business aspects of chainpharmacy in action and how theywork together to bring "what we aretaught in school to reality." Oneaspect of pharmacy the students wereglad to see being demonstrated wasmedication therapy management(MTM). Jones noted that in herexperience with community pharmacies,there were varying degrees ofMTM utilization, and she wasencouraged that graduating studentswere "going to have that liberty andopportunity" to practice MTM in thepharmaceutical arena as a whole.
Andrew Bzowyckyj, a P3 studentat the University of Connecticut(UConn), said that although somestudents may not be consideringchain pharmacy, conferences likeNACDS's offered workshops about avariety of topics that could apply toall pharmacies, such as patient counseling,immunizations, and MTM. Hesaid that receiving a list of topics inan advance e-mail encouraged him toattend, and other students agreedthat the agenda was a key factor intheir decisions to come to the conference.
The students also were encouragedby the growing use of technology inpharmacies. Gregory Mainella, a secondprofessional year student at theMassachusetts College of Pharmacy(MCP), noted how it allows pharmaciststo "get...away from doing thesmall, little tasks that would usuallyoverburden the pharmacy in times ofstress," giving them more time forpatient counseling. Jenna Merlo, afourth professional year student alsofrom MCP, "enjoyed the [technological]presentation...about [pharmacy]automation. It just shows how farwe can go with technology to helpmake things more accurate and efficient,"she said.
Afton Yurkon, Holly Wheeler, and Summer Bruchwalski
Holly Wheeler, a sixth-year studentat Northeastern University, said thatit was important for pharmacists towork on changing how they areviewed by the public, so that whentechnology does become more prevalent,pharmacists will be seen as personalizedhealth care providers fortheir patients. Renee Larouche, a P3student from UConn, noted that"there has been a lot of focus on...how we can make a better experiencefor the [patient]."
The studentswere asked if theywould recommendthe conference toother pharmacystudents, and theresponse was decidedlypositive.Wheeler believedthat "getting them[students] to theconference to seepeople in all thesedifferent aspecof pharmacy...isreally important."Larouche suggestedthat, to encouragemore studentsto attend, groupssuch as NACDSshould "go tothe [pharmacy]schools and tellthem about theconference," aswell as waiving or lowering the registrationfee for students. Bruchwalskipointed out that groups should keepschools' schedules in mind whenplanning conferences if they wantstudents to attend.
Merlo wanted to encourage studentsand organizations to pursue"anything that helps us have moreone-on-one time with the patientand make sure that [the patients]know how to take their medication."Anna Brekhman, a fourth professionalyear student at NortheasternUniversity, also hoped more studentswould attend, because as she pointedout, "they say it takes only one personto change the world. There isalways going to be one person thatwill take that opportunity, and theymight do something big with it oneday."