I had never really traveled before starting pharmacy school last July (2012). My parents use to take me and my brother camping (in a pop-up trailer, not a tent) when I was in middle and high school but I hated that. So when I got my first job at the age of 16 I would ask my boss to please have me work on those weekends that my parents were planning camping trips so that I could stay home and not be subjected to the torture.
Even during undergrad when classmates were taking their cruises to exotic islands during Spring Break I was picking up more hours at work. So ultimately I had never been out of the country or on a cruise at the age of 25. This seemed to baffle some of my classmates. Most were foreign born or had parents who were foreign born so travelling was second nature to them. Some classmates came from families with more money than mine had so they were probably gifted with exotic trips and cruises for spring breaks as well. In fact, I never really traveled anywhere other than my parents’ camping trips outside of the few states that surround Maryland. I hadn’t even been to New York and that was only 5 hours north of my home in Maryland. My boyfriend finally took me to New York (and NJ while driving through) this summer for a day.
But my non-travelling days stopped when school started. Since the pharmacy field is becoming so saturated and now it’s more important than ever to set yourself apart from the competition when you graduate, we’re constantly told to join pharmacy organizations. Be it pharmacy fraternities, state level organizations or even national organizations, all seem to have conferences that will allow you to see the U.S. I didn’t attend any national meetings my P1 year of school, but I did attend some Maryland Pharmacists Association (MPhA) and Delaware Pharmacists Society (DPS). They were confined to Maryland and Delaware obviously, but they set the stage for attending more meetings-and obviously travelling more. I did end up finally getting the chance to leave the country (and apply for my very first passport!) when I signed up to go to Spain for one of my P2 year electives the summer of 2013. My pharmacy fraternity has gone to Gatlinburg, TN for the past two years at this Annual Retreat that another chapter hosts-this was my first time visiting TN (and another state other than WV and PA that doesn’t line the Atlantic Ocean). And like said before, all of the pharmacy organizations hold annual meetings in various U.S. cities so I ended up going to Orlando twice this school year-once for the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) 115th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in October and then for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Annual Meeting and Exposition just last weekend-and currently I’m in Nashville for Phi Delta Chi’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference. Not to mention there are other organizations that I may or may not belong to that hold their annual meetings in other locations as well.
Next (school) year there are already meetings planned in Tampa, Florida (Phi Delta Chi’s Leadership Development Seminar), Austin, Texas (NCPA), Anaheim, CA (ASHP) and San Diego, CA (APhA in 2015).
So what’s the point of all this travelling? Networking and meeting new people in our field who may help us out once we graduate. It’s not enough that we can just put down on our CVs that we attended this national meeting here and this one there, but it’s also important to form those professional relationships that may come in handy for the future. You never know, but you could be looking at your future business partner or new boss…and pharmacy is a small field so why not mingle with your colleagues sooner?