At the beginning of fourth year rotations, Parth and I were challenged with the task of seeking out unique leadership experiences and further developing the skills that we have learned. In doing so I have had the chance to partake in many unique opportunities and I have grown tremendously because of them. Furthermore, the leadership training that I have received as a Walker Leadership Scholar (WLS) has been beneficial for them all regardless of location or specialty. Some of my rotation experiences have included leading a pharmacy department meeting, creating and presenting medication-use-evaluation monographs and participating in pharmacy and therapeutics committees. Other rotation experiences have provided me with the chance to develop my public speaking skills and my communication style.
Additionally, thanks to the WLS program, Parth and I will be the first pharmacy students to go through the graduation with leadership distinction process. This has truly been a learning experience as balancing rotation commitments alongside completing requirements for GLD have provided me with valuable lessons in communication and time management. This has also been an opportunity to reflect upon my time in pharmacy school and how I have grown as both a person and as a leader.
As of right now, I am on rotation number eight of nine, finishing a degree in Health Information Technology and applying for residency programs. These next few months will be exceeding busy. However, they will also be rife with opportunity to make full use of the skills and experiences that I have gained these past few years.
The last year with the Walker Leadership program began with Laura Jane and I planning and participating in the first ever Leadership Week at the University of South Carolina. Through this experience, we were exposed to the intricacies of planning an event intended to reach 30,000 students with a variety of interests. While it was a challenge, the experience was incredible. This concluded our experience with Carolina Leadership Initiative, a program that brought us a multitude of opportunities and experiences we would not trade throughout the course of our P2 year.
During the summer following my P2 year, I pursued a local internship in Columbia, South Carolina with the FoodShare Columbia program. One of the reasons I pursued the Walker Leadership Scholarship was for my interest in public health, particularly in the third world. The FoodShare Columbia program works to provide healthy food alternatives to low income families in the area at an affordable price. During the internship, I was able to work on a multi disciplinary team with a medical student and a public health student to help streamline the process of ordering and packing food boxes, while also helping the community with health literacy. Midway through the program, we were all give the opportunity to lead a food box pick up day as well! The internship concluded in August, but I have concluded to volunteer and provide assistance throughout my P3 year. This program also provided me with the opportunity to attend the American College of Lifestyle Medicine Annual Conference. It is crazy to think that at the beginning of 2016 I had no idea that such a conference existed, but by October of the same year I was able to benefit enormously and bring back multitudes of information to help an organization I have become deeply invested in as a result of the Walker Leadership Scholars program.
I have greatly appreciated all the leadership guidance and experiences I have received through this program in the 2016 year and cannot wait to see what they coming year will offer as we embark on a trip in Washington DC and I begin my rotations!
This past May, the Walker Leadership Foundation made it possible for me to pursue one of my favorite passions, pharmacy, in one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere. I traveled to El Viejo, Nicaragua with a local organization based in Charleston, One World Health, to provide free health care clinics to the local people of Nicaragua for about a week. I had the wonderful opportunity to be the pharmacy team-leader and work along side 3 fantastic physicians, CRNAs, nursing students, PT, OT, and PA students as well as 2 other pharmacy students on rotation. We served more than 800+ individuals, providing them with a visit with a physician, physical therapy, and medications, all at no cost for them. It is such a rewarding experience. As the team-leader, I would be one of the first people to try to tackle obstacles that came our way. One of our first challenges, was right when we landed in Nicaragua, and the government there confiscated all of our medical equipment, physical therapy equipment and children's vitamins. There was nothing that we really could do at this point but to try to replace our equipment with things we could purchase locally. We made do, but it was definitely a stretch for me personally. I also was able to reunite with a young girl, Gabby, who has a cleft pallet that I had met the year prior. She will be able to get surgery for her cleft pallet for free of charge in Nicaragua though Operation Smiles, when she is old enough. She came to our clinic in 2015 due to some trouble breathing. Gabby needed a spacer for her inhaler, but we did not have any available with us, so I was able to take an empty water bottle from one of our team members, clean it, and make a spacer out of it, duct tape and gauze that was a perfect fit for her. It was so rewarding to see her a year later, smiling and healthy! I am very humbled to have had this opportunity as it definitely challenged me as both a leader and an individual.
As the Spring semester kicks off, I can only imagine the ways this program will shape me as a leader and as a person. While the fall semester introduced Anna and me to the program, this spring offers us lots of opportunities to explore our leadership interests. Looking ahead, Anna and I will be attending the APhA meeting in San Francisco this March. This trip would never have been possible for me without this program. I think it’s so important to make connections and to see what pharmacy can offer as a P2, so that those experiences can inspire my rotation choices and maybe even my residency options someday. We will also attend the Student Leadership and Diversity Conference held at the University in February.
This past fall, Anna and I attended a leadership course held by the university. This spring, we will be taking a leadership course taught by Dr. Randazzo. After just one class, I already know this course will be extremely beneficial and I look forward to attending. I will continue to work with Mrs. Kathy as a teaching assistant for the P1 labs. This job has been a great way to practice leadership and to get to know the P1 students better. I’m also looking forward to more Lunch and Learns, especially with Dawn Stately. This past fall we had lunch with Dean Cutler on two different occasions. Dean Cutler is passionate about what this program stands for and offered us great advice. He emphasized that leadership is all about reflection and your ability to learn from your mistakes. In November, Anna and I were inducted into the Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership Society, and look forward to collaborating with other leaders at SCCP.
When I applied to be a Walker Leadership Scholar last February, I had a feeling that this program would be the best opportunity I could possibly be given as a pharmacy student. After just one semester as a scholar, I can see that my feeling couldn’t have been more spot on. It has been such a privilege to work with the council members and the other Walker Leadership Scholars because they are constantly inspiring and supporting me. I’m so excited to see where this program takes me next, and I can’t wait to help select the next two scholars for the program!
The Walker Leadership program has enabled me to learn about all aspects of leadership. Last semester, Meg and I participated in an 8-week leadership development program held within the Leadership and Service Center at USC. The course integrated various components of leadership; we learned how to identify personal strengths and weaknesses, communication styles, values, and goals for the future. Hearing different perspectives of leadership from students of other majors was an eye-opening experience that allowed me to better understand how to apply leadership to pharmacy. We also had the privilege of hearing South Carolina senator Tim Scott speak. Receiving advice from such a successful and renowned leader was an invaluable experience.
Looking onward to the spring semester, Meg and I are enrolled in Dr. Kirk Randazzo’s leadership course. The Walker Leadership program is also providing Meg and me with the opportunity to travel to San Francisco to attend the annual APhA meeting. I am so excited not only to visit such an iconic and cultural city, but also to meet and learn from pharmacy students and professionals from across the country.
The Walker Leadership program gave me so many great opportunities and experiences during the 2016 year that I would not have had otherwise. I am looking forward to building additional relationships and learning even more about what it takes to be a leader in the field of pharmacy in 2017!