Print This Article
Educational Affairs: Director of Educational Affairs Reflection
by Lara Ellinger, PharmD, BCPS
Like many Midwesterners, my favorite season change is summer to fall. Crisp weather with jackets and boots, football, pumpkins, crunchy leaves, and…the ICHP Annual Meeting. Fall is a great time for change and the Annual Meeting embodies that, too. Installation of new officers, calls to action, re-connecting with colleagues; many members leave the meeting feeling re-energized. This Annual Meeting I am reflecting on my time spent as Director of Educational Affairs Division (EAD), an experience that had its seasons of being challenging, rewarding, draining, and exciting.
I was a little hesitant at first to put my name in the running for a position that was a 2-year term (and a 1-year elect position!), but I had lots of encouragement from Trish Wegner, Mike Fotis, and Travis Hunerdosse (who was Director of EAD before me). And that alone is one of the benefits of being involved in ICHP: encouragement from your colleagues and mentors. The theme for the 2017 meeting was related to innovation, and for the 2018 meeting, it was elevating your practice. These themes carried through my time as Director of EAD and were reflected in some of our major agenda items throughout the last couple of years. I think the Division was innovative and also elevated practice by holding the ASHP Residency Program Design and Conduct (RPDC) workshop alongside the 2017 Annual Meeting. This allowed members and non-members to reap the benefit of the workshop without having to travel to the ASHP National Pharmacy Preceptors Conference, or pay the ASHP price. We were also innovative and elevated practice by assessing concerns among APPE student rotation sites and the discordant rotation schedules from various Illinois colleges of pharmacy. As a result, ICHP has called for a reconvening of the Illinois Coalition, which will comprise deans from IL colleges of pharmacy, experiential education representatives, an IL Board of Pharmacy member, and staff from ICHP and IPhA. This Coalition will provide a forum to identify and discuss experiential education issues and allow for collaboration between health-systems, community pharmacy, and schools of pharmacy in order to support experiential education. Our first meeting coincided with the 2018 Annual Meeting.
When I reflect on the time I spent with the Division members and Subcommittees of the Division (i.e., the Annual and Spring Meeting Planning Committees each year), I realize that there were a LOT of calls. One call per month for the Division and 8-10 weekly meetings twice a year for meeting planning works out to approximately 32 x 1-hour calls per year! No wonder at times I found the work draining. But what drained out of me was refilled so that my net energy, motivation, and excitement for the work I was doing were always in the positive.
Below are some of the greatest challenges I learned how to navigate during my time as Director:
- Motivate people to actively contribute in a conference call setting. The dynamic of the committee can lend itself to easy conversation and members who are quick to volunteer, and other times there may be a lot of silence and shyness from the group. In the latter case, you learn to call out specific individuals and ask for their opinion or to work on something. Those situations can be uncomfortable, but are important to exercise so that you are not volunteering yourself each time something needs to be done. I was fortunate enough to mostly deal with excited groups of people who were not lacking for ideas or eagerness to get further involved.
- Manage logistical issues of calls. Coordinating a time for everyone to meet can be challenging. Pharmacists have direct patient care and academic responsibilities, as well as standing meetings that cannot be moved. They are volunteering their time to serve on an ICHP committee so there are often competing priorities during the times of the calls. Also, running a call when you do not have a private office can be difficult. There may be noises or conversations in the background that can be distracting for everyone. Taking minutes while running a call is one of the ultimate forms of multitasking! It is best to identify a volunteer to be the secretary when the committee is convened, or ask at the beginning of the call if someone can assist.
- Make the position a priority when it is not your actual job. This is much easier to do when you are passionate about it. But time passes quickly between calls, and before you know it, the next call is on the horizon. Often, it comes at a time when new issues have cropped up at your actual job. When it rains, it pours!
- Exercise effective time management. The sooner the action is taken after a call, the better. Momentum and motivation can languish if weeks pass before you get to those follow-up items.
- Recognize when a thoroughly-explored idea is not right to implement. There is a season for ideas to not work out, too. After much debate and an agenda item that seemed to hang on forever, the Division decided that digital badges were not something ICHP should explore at this time. Disappointing as it was, it became apparent that this interesting idea did not make sense to implement.
So what do you really get out of serving in a leadership position within ICHP?
These were the greatest benefits that I experienced during my time serving:
- Further development of my leadership style
- Improved confidence in leading a group
- Delegation skills
- Giving back to an organization that gives to me and my colleagues
- Becoming a part of a community
- Networking opportunities
- Support and encouragement from colleagues and mentors
- Identifying members’ needs and using them to form relevant programming
- Running efficient meetings
I am so glad that I had this experience and encourage anyone interested in becoming more involved in ICHP to do so. The skills I have gained are transferable to my practice setting and have allowed me to grow in general as a pharmacist. On my last call as Director of EAD, I was asked what I will do next. I did not have an answer, because I am unsure what and when my next move will be. At this time I am focusing on my family, and learning that it is ok to take a step back from some of the professional committees with which I am involved in order to do so. After all, there is a season for that, too. Seasons change quickly, so I have no doubt I will embark on a new leadership adventure in the near future. ■