President's Message - Discovery at a Local Affiliate Meeting

by Tom Westerkamp, ICHP President
August 9, 2013

I attended a local affiliate continuing education (CE) meeting recently and was impressed by the quality of the speakers and Q&A that followed the presentation. There were three speakers who presented the results of their residency projects. Based on the information presented, and the interactions between pharmacists that I heard, it was clear to me that continuing education – real learning – was taking place. It was a great meeting after a not-so-great day at work.

As I left the meeting, anxious to get home after a long day, I was stopped by two fourth year pharmacy students who asked if they could interview me for a school project. I felt special to have been selected, as there were dozens of other pharmacists they could have asked.

The students wanted to know what I felt about ICHP, why I attended CE meetings, why I got involved with the organization, what role did I see for students in ICHP, what value does ICHP provide, and where I saw the profession of pharmacy going. They were interested in hearing about the various opportunities for pharmacists in industry, how important I believe continuing education is, how great it is to see old friends from school after you graduate and your lives get so busy, and how helpful it is to network within the organization to help find out about upcoming job opportunities. Time flew by as we chatted for about an hour.

As they jotted down notes about what I was saying, it occurred to me that this CE meeting truly epitomized exactly what ICHP is all about. Learning about new treatment regimens…catching up with old friends and classmates…sharing information about job opportunities…sharing insights with students…getting drug information… learning… becoming a better pharmacist…being better prepared to care for patients. I believe that, plus much more, is what ICHP provides for its members.

I have pharmacist friends that do not belong to any professional organization. Despite gentle nudges and mild pleads from me to join ICHP, they simply choose not to. There are a lot of reasons (excuses) given about time, costs, and families. They choose to live their professional lives in a vacuum, content to be spectators instead of participants. To each their own. They have no idea how much they are missing.

Based on this recent meeting and many others I have attended, the quality of the presentations, and the professional and personal exchanges that take place at these meetings, I know how much these non-members are missing. They miss a chance to learn something in an informal setting. They miss a chance to catch up with old friends. They miss a chance to connect with other members to commiserate over the problems we all share at work, and maybe learn how others are solving these same problems. They miss a chance to hear about exciting new job opportunities long before they are made public. They miss a chance to discuss the future of the profession with students, residents, and new pharmacists joining our ranks. They miss an opportunity to influence and guide the future leaders that will be changing the organization and the profession. They miss out on so much.

At my inaugural address I shared this quote: “Direction, not intention, determines destination” (Andy Stanley). The best intentions in the world don’t mean a thing if there is no direction. We members of ICHP help provide the direction that the profession is going in. It is members of professional organizations like ours that provide the direction of where pharmacy is headed. We get to participate, we get to influence the profession, we get to provide input on pending legislation, and we help determine our destination. Non-members may have good intentions, but do not provide direction; they are simply spectators sitting passively on the sidelines. It’s hard to have an impact on the direction the team is going if you’re not even on the playing field.

Those two pharmacy students learned a little about ICHP and the value our organization provides and discovered some insights on the profession that night…and so did I.

Thanks for being a member…and thanks for caring.

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