The Power of Attending Pharmacy Association Meetings

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers February 2016

When it comes to enjoying a life-long career, mentoring, networking, and learning are all critical.

When it comes to enjoying a life-long career, mentoring, networking, and learning are all critical. Where can you go to power up on this trifecta of career development all at once?

Pharmacy association annual meetings, of course!

There is power in attending and participating in pharmacy professional associations. Learning the trends, getting up-to-date education, and reconnecting with mentors and colleagues can all happen when you take the time to attend professional society or association meetings.

The start of a new year is always a good time to seek new opportunities to try or new career areas to explore. With so many meetings to consider, I decided to note all of the national pharmacist association society meetings on a calendar and share them.

I’ve been lucky enough to garner some of the best ideas I have ever had when it comes to my career while attending annual pharmacy association meetings. The following are just a few examples.

The drug information association (DIA) offers a great meeting for medical information professionals in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. The DIA was one of the places where I first got the bright idea to publish a book about medical science liaisons. I also learned a lot through this organization about the different types of careers that are possible within the pharmaceutical industry, such as regulatory affairs, clinical operations, medical and drug information, health outcomes research, and medical science liaisons. The 2016 DIA annual meeting is June 26—30 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When it comes to women in leadership positions in health care, we have a paucity of women at the helm. That is why I appreciate the healthcare businesswomen’s association (HBA)—its annual meeting honors some of the best and brightest women in the industry. The association helps educate women and expose them to leaders in health care and pharmacy. We all need more diversity in leadership—in both health care and pharmacy practice. The 2016 HBA annual meeting is November 2—4 in St. Louis, Missouri.

I met one of my current managers at the american college of clinical pharmacy (ACCP) annual meeting several years ago. That was the ultimate networking experience because I actually got a job out of that connection, and it was a job that never even existed before! Also, ACCP offers several courses for board certification in many clinical specialties. Board certifications are exploding in health care and pharmacy careers. If clinical pharmacy is your passion, consider attending ACCP’s 2016 annual meeting October 23—26 in Hollywood, Florida.

Academic pharmacists attend the american association of colleges of pharmacy (AACP) annual meeting. When I attend AACP, I get the chance to catch up with friends and colleagues from other pharmacy schools across the United States. In 2015, I also had the chance to learn more about running editorial content for a journal, which has become handy as the founding editor for a health care journal created by and written for students at Butler University. The 2016 AACP annual meeting is July 23—27 in Anaheim, California.

Now that I am a lawyer, a pharmacist, and a teacher of pharmacy law, my hands-down favorite meeting is the american society for pharmacy Law (ASPL) because I can earn continuing education credits. (Full disclosure: I am on the board and a member of ASPL.) I have been fortunate to find many mentors, inspiration, and speakers through this organization. While many think pharmacist-attorneys are rare, this group is growing. Legal issues in pharmacy are exploding, which gives us more challenges and policy for the profession to manage. ASPL’s 2016 fall conference is November 10—13 in Austin, Texas.

Regardless of your area of practice or the passions you have in pharmacy, do yourself a favor and attend a few pharmacy association meetings this year. Although the cost of attending is high in terms of both time and money, the rewards from participating in these conferences can be immense, from meeting up with colleagues and discovering best practices to learning how to get more involved in pharmacy on a larger level.

See you at the meetings, and happy 2016!

Erin Albert, MBA, PharmD, JD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice, director of continuing education, and founding executive editor of BU Well at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is also a health outcomes pharmacist for Myers and Stauffer, LC. For more on her books and writing, visit her website at

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