On March 17th, I received news that would dictate where I will be spending the next year of my life. I discovered that I had matched with the residency program for the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) system. During the month of February, I went through the arduous task of interviewing for residency positons at various locations. While interviewing I had the opportunity to speak with various pharmacists and hospital representatives regarding the importance of leadership in the pharmacy world. They could all see the value that the Walker Leadership program brings. Additionally, I was able make use of experiences gained through this program to make myself a more marketable candidate and showcase my knowledge of leadership and of pharmacy.
The state of New Mexico has progressive pharmacy laws that give pharmacists expansive capabilities to practice pharmacy. With this in mind, I believe that the University hospital will give me a great opportunity to grow as a leader and also make an impact, furthermore, having the opportunity to interact with pharmacy students on the University campus will give me the opportunity to serve as a mentor to those with similar interests in pharmacy leadership. As I make this change in my life, I hope to continue to grow as a leader, serve as an agent of change and help others grow and develop their leadership styles as well.
On another note, UNMH is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and in a previous post, I mentioned the wonderful opportunity that WLS provided for me to attend the Phi Delta Chi Grand Council in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If it was not for this opportunity I would not have been introduced to the wonders of Albuquerque, nor would I have applied for the residency position at the University of New Mexico.
Wow! I cannot believe that Laura Jane and I are finishing up our 2nd year in this program and our 3rd year in pharmacy school. Time really does fly! This semester has been a whirlwind of exciting activities, from lunch and learns to Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership conferences to application review for the new class of scholars. There has hardly been a dull moment! The most rewarding part of this year for me has been the opportunity to apply all of the skills I have learned over the first two years in this program to plan our P3 class banquet. Laura Jane, myself, and our other class officers have worked diligently throughout this semester to organize an exciting event that will provide entertainment and excitement for the entire P3 class as well as the faculty and younger students. It has truly been an exciting and educational way to wrap things up this year.
The biggest challenge of planning the P3 banquet has been budgeting. While I served a treasurer for our class last year and am familiar with how to work a budget, learning to apply that budget to plan a major event has been a learning experience. With money constantly coming in from fundraisers and then going out as we booked the venue, tables, chairs, band and other events, it was challenging to keep up with at first. However, I have finally been able to learn to keep track of the constantly changing budget with the help of the treasurer this year. The other challenge has been delegation. There are only three class officers who are tasked with planning the banquet, but in order to make the event we needed much more input and aid from our classmates. Learning to relinquish some control to people in our class that I trust has been a learning curve but has definitely led to what will be a better outcome. All of this will culminate into a wonderful event next Monday, and then my school year and my involvement with traditional leadership roles at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy will begin to die down.
Planning the P3 banquet has been a magnificent opportunity to see how much I have grown over the past 3 years, both in school and through this program. As a P1 student applying to this program, I was scared about being able to manage my time between school, leadership positions, and this program. I was also terrified to speak in front of crowds and fearful of failure. Going into my last weeks of my third year of pharmacy school, I am not confident that I can respond gracefully to adversity and failure and that I can manage my time appropriately between a variety of different tasks. I am excited to have the opportunity to continue to grow and to apply my leadership skills in a new setting of rotations next year and to learn about more pharmacy career options as Laura Jane and I travel to DC in May!
As excited Taylor and I both are for rotations, we can't help but reflect on how exciting yet challenging this last semester has been. We were fortunately able to attend the PLS conference in Charleston back in February and received fantastic insight from Dr. Alan Spies in which we were equipped with determining our leadership voice, learning our leadership weapon as well as different gears that we shift between and how to live a healthy leadership life and balance the time and quality spent in each gear. The 5 voices Dr. Spies presented were Pioneer, Guardian, Nurturer, Creative and Connector. My personal voice is "Guardian".
Taken from the 5 Voices Assessment:
Guardian: You are a champion of responsibility and stewardship! You respect and value logic, order, procedure, and process. You seek clarity as well as logical and proven decision-making criteria even if you have to ask the tough questions to get there. You like to see established track records of success to justify trying something different. You may feel frustrated that you are sometimes seen as "raining on the parade" just because you are trying to make sure the team makes the best decision possible. You ask detailed, often awkward questions that bring clarity to the tasks and challenges of organizations. You love to bring order, structure and efficiency to the world around you. You are like a cruise missile. You would rather die than fail to deliver on agreed objectives! You are incredibly conscientious and fiercely loyal to your leaders and team.You may have strong perfectionist tendencies and thus delegation can be a challenge. You find your primary identity in work and task achievement, and you often wear people out by being always "on"! You struggle to value people who do not contribute to the task or project. Learn how to value rest and recreation, simply being with others.When you learn how to value relationships as much as tasks, you can accomplish any achievement you set your mind to.
One thing that I find incredibly valuable as a leader, is the importance of self reflection. How important it is to take the time and evaluate yourself, how you interact with others, what your weaknesses are, and how you can do better and improve! When the "weapons" of each voice were presented, I felt this as a great oppportunity to do just that. So for a guardian's voice, their "weapon" is interrogation. What this means is that when we are doubtful of other members of the team, we ask every question possible to test the validity and accuracy of their words as well as to find faults in their plans. We often find our selves "pinning them to the wall" where they feel like their plans/ideas are no longer valid. This can be incredibly detrimental to a team environment, especially if you are the leader of that team, because not only is it discouraging to that individual/group but it is also hinders them from wanting to come up with or even voice ideas/problems they they may have in the future!
The second part of Dr. Spies presentation focused on our lifestyle, and healthy behavior. He presented 5 gears that every person shifts in between on a normal daily basis and how to be both present and productive.
The 5 gears:
• First gear—when you fully rest and recharge
• Second gear—when you connect with family or friends without the involvement of work
• Third gear—when you are socializing
• Fourth gear—when you are working and multi-tasking
• Fifth gear—when you are fully focused and 'in the zone,' working without interruption
To be both present and productive you have to learn how to balance all 5 gears, without spending too much or too little time in any one category. For example, most of the time in pharmacy school I find myself staying pretty steady in 4th gear, multi-tasking and just getting things done wether it be studying, working, going to class, working on projects, etc. Not that this gear is "bad" per say, but when I spend the majority of my day multitasking, checking my phone for emails/texts, it is not a healthy behavior (especially when we find ourselves checking our email first thing in the morning before even getting out of bed!) I have to learn to step back, shift down to second and first gear on a more frequent basis, to allow myself time to rest and recharge so that when I shift back into 4th gear, I can be in that gear and be focused and productive. Allow yourself time to shift between gears! We want to be productive but we cant compromise our ability to be productive by wearing ourselves out. Take the time to recharge with friends, family or even just by yourself but its important to practice all gears and be fully present when you are in them!
As I stated before, this conference was very insightful on things we can ALL do to be better peers, coworkers, team members and ultimately more effective leaders! I encourage you to check out the two books where this presentation was adapted from:
5 Voices: How to Communicate Effectively with Everyone You Lead by Kubicek and Cockram
5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There Is Never Enough Time by Kubicek and Cockram
This past semester has been an exciting semester to be a Walker Leadership Scholar! Anna and I kicked off the semester by attending the Student Leadership and Diversity Conference. What I liked about this conference was the breakout sessions they held. These sessions made it easier to tailor the day to my unique leadership needs. For instance, I decided to attend a session about how to hold an effective meeting. I have been able to take the tips and tricks they provided and apply them to the settings I am in. When meeting with a group be it large or small I have a better idea of how I can make the time together more effective and leave everyone feeling like their attendance is appreciated! Some other exciting things that have happened this semester include my attendance at the PLS Conference, where I got to spend the day with the P3 scholars. It was a great day that encouraged us to all reflect on our styles and how we manage our time. I have also had many opportunities to apply everything I have been learning about by being elected P3 Class President and Vice President of Rho Chi. I look forward to next year and the ways I will develop more as I take on these new and challenging roles.
The highlight of the semester was attending the APhA meeting in San Francisco. The meeting brings together pharmacists and students from every level, so I was able to expand my network and be inspired. The conversations I valued the most centered around the programs, ideas, and activities taking place at other pharmacy schools. Gathering this information inspired and allowed me to relay these messages back to our college. This program grants us access to information that students will otherwise not receive unless we relay it to them. I've learned that leadership is about serving others and leading from the middle. I felt this trip allowed me to serve my peers and my college in that way and for that I am so grateful. Similarly, the setting presented me with the opportunity to spread the word about the Walker Leadership Scholars Program. Since it is one of the only leadership development programs of its kind, there was a lot of interest that went as high up as a conversation with the CEO of APhA! I learned that APhA is also looking to start a leadership development program and my hope is that our college will have the opportunity to be a part of that early on in its development.
Another take away from the meeting was how easy it can be to get involved on a national level with some of the organizations we have. For instance, as a delegate for the Phi Lambda Sigma Leadership Society, I witnessed a P3 student from MUSC be elected Speaker of the House for the society. There are exciting opportunities outside of our college for involvement, but as students we will only know about them if we make an effort to expand ourselves beyond the classroom. My conversation with our own Dr. Bob Davis (a past APhA president!) echoed the same things I heard from many other reputable pharmacists; their successful career paths began by being involved early on and other opportunities came along naturally. While I credit a lot of my conversations to the Walker Program, I found that people are willing and eager to talk to students if the students are there to listen. There are also plenty of students to talk to as well. Due to my involvement in the Walker Program, my time with students was limited, but even in with a small time frame, I connected with a student from Presbyterian College and two students from Wingate College who I anticipate reconnecting with at the PLS meeting next year.
Easily the best part of my trip to San Fransisco was our unexpected meeting with Lucinda Maine, CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. Lucinda is a close friend of Donna's who was looking forward to meeting Anna and I at the President's Reception. When we finally found each other, the reception was ending, so we ended up having dinner at the hotel. What resulted was an impromptu "Lunch'n Learn" opportunity. Our conversations explored leadership, pharmacy, our backgrounds and our passions. I could not believe that someone as important, powerful, and accomplished as Lucinda Maine wanted to get to know me. She cared about who I was and wanted to help guide me, in whatever way she could, to where I wanted to be. I came away from that conversation feeling like I mattered to someone powerful, and that feeling instilled a confidence in me that I didn't have before. I left feeling like what I had to contribute was important, and someday I want to make the kinds of contributions to my profession that Lucinda is making.
Traveling to the APhA meeting was both fun (I had never been to the West Coast!) and rewarding and I highly recommend that we make the meeting in Nashville a priority! Also, keep an eye out for the Midyear Regional Meeting in October or November that will be held in Charleston, SC. This event is focused exclusively on students, so it will be a great place to meet other students and exercise involvement in the pharmacy profession!
The second semester of P2 year has flown by; it is hard to believe that pharmacy school is almost halfway done! The first few months of 2017 presented Meg and me with several leadership opportunities that led me to develop an entirely different and unique view on leadership that none of my previous leadership positions exposed me to. In January, Meg and I began an independent study leadership course taught by Dr. Kirk Randazzo. For me, leadership has always been a “learn as I go” process. The opportunity to sit down in a comprehensive setting each week, learning from a trained and experienced leadership professor, expanded my views on the different styles of leadership that I was not specifically aware of and made me better understand the importance of collaboration and how to best handle inter-personal situations. I have already applied these principles in a more effective way not only in the school and workplace setting, but also in everyday life with my peers and members of the community.
In March, Meg and I had the amazing opportunity to travel to San Francisco to attend the APhA annual meeting. The professional world is one that is a little new to me; most of my leadership experience originates in herding groups of runners to complete warm-up drills at cross country and track practice, making sure teammates get to the starting line ready to go and confident on race day, and communicating with coaches, advisors, and other athletes. A little smaller scale (and less intimidating) than being thrown in the mix with leaders from the entire field of pharmacy! The transition from running shoes and Nike shorts to fancy flats that make noise when I walk and wrinkle-free dress pants was admittedly difficult and nostalgic, but was simultaneously eagerly welcomed with open arms and excitement for my future in pharmacy.
My favorite part of the APhA meeting was serving as the student delegate for the South Carolina College of Pharmacy. As a delegate, I voted alongside other student delegates on proposed resolutions and new chapter officers for the 2017-2018 year. Policy and regulation are areas of pharmacy I am unfamiliar with and have never been exposed to; the House of Delegates sessions opened my eyes to a foundational aspect of the profession that occurs more behind the scenes. A similar concept was represented at the Student Leadership and Diversity Conference (SLDC) that took place in February here at USC. This conference is not pharmacy related, rather it helps students expand general leadership skills and gives them the opportunity to explore areas of various careers or programs that are unfamiliar to them. Upon arriving, I was surprised at how many USC students were present; who knew so many students were interested in leadership! The morning block consisted of several speakers, and the afternoon block included break-out sessions where students had the opportunity to choose which program or informational session they were interested in. Some of these sessions were in the form of round-table discussions, which was a great way to make the session more interactive and engaging.
While in San Francisco, Meg and I attended the President’s Reception honoring the 2016-2017 APhA President Kelly Goode. I had never been to a reception of this stature, and was not sure what to expect. We walked into the reception that night not knowing a single person in the room; by the end of the evening, we had the privilege of meeting and connecting with CEO of APhA Thomas Menighan, former South Carolina College of Pharmacy Dean and current VCU College of Pharmacy Dean Joseph DiPiro, former APhA President and former consultant at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy’s Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center (KPIC) Bob Davis, and several others. We also met several pharmacy students from other programs. This event tied the whole weekend together and gave us invaluable experience and connections to advance our pharmacy careers in the future. I am so thankful for the Walker Leadership Program for making this amazing opportunity (and so many others!) possible.
The most challenging, and ultimately the most beneficial, part of this semester has been learning from and interacting with leaders who are much different than I am. If I have learned anything from my second semester as a Walker Leadership Scholar, it is that leadership is dynamic and is not an overnight process. Even the most effective leaders have things they can improve on, and even the most knowledgeable and experienced leaders always have something to learn from others. This is a valuable experience; the real-world, post-graduate life requires collaboration with people from all different walks of life with different personalities, viewpoints, and ideas.
Looking onward to the summer and next year, we are looking forward to welcoming two new scholars to the program. While it is sad to see Parth and Kendall graduate, I am excited to see what amazing things they do with everything they have learned from this program and from the last four years at the South Carolina College of Pharmacy. I am beginning my hospital rotation in May, and am hoping to attend an APhA-ASP Summer Leadership Institute in Washington D.C. in July to prepare for the next year of leadership opportunities that lie ahead. I am looking forward to my P3 year and what lies ahead for the future of the Walker Leadership Program!