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Professional pearls

Executives from national pharmacy professional organizations shared wisdom with Drake University pharmacy students at the October session of the Student Leadership Development Series

Students gathered in Harvey Ingham 104 on a Friday afternoon as executives from some of the nations leading professional organizations shared stories of their (sometimes winding) career paths — and the pearls of wisdom they’ve discovered along the way:

Don’t settle for the status quo – make things happen.
If you really want to do something, prepare for it – there’s no such thing as over-preparation.

Don’t underestimate service and how rewarding it can be.
Surround yourself with movers and shakers.
Don’t just make a living – focus on making a difference.

For students, it can be easy to admire an executive’s achievements without understanding how he or she arrived in a position. This session highlighted the personal paths of four nationally recognized leaders in the pharmacy field.

Left to right: April Shaughnessy, Mindy Smith, Tom Menighan, Becky Snead.

Tom Menighan, executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, relayed his story of discovering pharmacy through a chemistry set as a child, then eventually growing his network from soda fountain worker to a leadership role in APhA, the first-established and largest national professional society of pharmacists.

By challenging himself to turn an adverse situation into a positive, Menighan shared that even a personal struggle can lead to career breakthroughs. His wife’s illness with cancer taught him about total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and helped him build a set of rules about home IV therapy.

Mindy Smith, executive director of the American Pharmacists Association Foundation, was also part of the professional panel.

“Don’t settle for the status quo,” Smith said. She shared that she had no idea when she began her career as a pharmacist that it would lead to a role lobbying in the state legislature. However, by being open to new opportunities, Smith has been able to make meaningful changes for patients and practitioners.

This openness to discovery in an ever-changing field was further reinforced by Rebecca Snead, executive vice president and CEO of the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations.

“Know that your journey is going to be a bunch of leaps,” Snead said. “You will take many divergent paths along the way. Pharmacy is the most fabulous career, because you’re able to do so many different things.”

April Shaughnessy, director of external relations for the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy, concluded the session by extolling the virtues of mentorship — even among peers.

The panel urged Drake pharmacy students to take advantage of the depth and breadth — and friendliness — of expert practitioners in the state. The model of leadership and push for innovation in Iowa makes the Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences a prime incubator for top talent.

“You have so many of the most innovative practitioners in the world here, so take advantage of that,” Shaughnessy said. “Thanks to the universities in Iowa and the leadership in the state association, you’re going to rock it.”

The pearls of wisdom resonated with students.

“I liked the call to make a difference and not just a living,” said fourth-year pharmacy student Bethany Johnson. “I’m going to keep in mind that you’re always interviewing for a job, because it’s such a connected professional community.”