PPAG Annual Meeting Reflections

The annual PPAG meeting brings about a different experience for all of those who attend.  From advanced practitioners and long-time members catching up with old friends to pharmacy residents and students trying to find guidance in their new career path, there is something for everyone.  The membership committee was able to capture the annual meeting experience through four very different perspectives:  seasoned practitioner, new practitioner, resident, and student.

Cassie A. Billings, BS Pharm, PharmD (Seasoned practitioner) 
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist-Pediatrics, James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital, Vidant Medical Center, Greenville, NC
For more “seasoned” practitioners, the PPAG Annual Meeting provides opportunities to reconnect with friends made over the years and meet new practitioners and residents who share our passion for pediatrics. The Inaugural 5K Fun Run/Walk that benefitted the John Dice Memorial Scholarship Fund was held at Boom Island Park and offered a great chance to bond with folks while enjoying the spring temperatures in Minneapolis. The Board Review sessions provided opportunities to update my knowledge base on a broad range of topics in preparation for the upcoming board exam. Especially useful to me were the reviews of neonatology, hematology/oncology, neurology, and statistics. Watching mentors and colleagues get awarded for their accomplishments is always a joy to me on transition day. The resident presentations that day were numerous, and the ones I attended were extremely well done and articulately presented. I enjoyed the tour of the Children’s Hospital of Minnesota and was impressed to learn that Best Buy, which is based in Minneapolis, staffs a full time Geek Squad on campus.  Smith Medical sponsored a wonderful reception at Seven, a restaurant just around the corner from the hotel. The rooftop area was a great place to hang out and cultivate relationships with other members. This annual meeting was certainly one of the best.

Katelin Kimler, PharmD (New Practitioner)
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist-Pediatric Hematology/Oncology/Bone Marrow Transplant and Pediatric Intensive Care, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ
This year’s PPAG meeting was a reminder of how much I learned in residency and how variable pediatric pharmacy practice is across the country.  I am a new practitioner in pediatric hematology/oncology/BMT and intensive care and this was my second year attending the PPAG annual meeting. I felt that this year’s meeting was extremely well attended and a true reflection of the anticipation surrounding the first BCPPS exam to be held this fall.   I really enjoyed the enthusiasm of each presenter regarding their area of specialty and the corresponding attentiveness of all of the attendees.  One of my favorite parts of the meeting, however, was the special interest groups (SIGs) and committee meetings.  As a new practitioner, SIGs seem to be a great way to discuss some of the current issues in everyday practice and to develop a national network of colleagues.  I was equally excited to become a part of the membership committee during the meeting and begin involvement in a way that aligns with my interests and skills. Resident presentations are another component of the annual meeting that is enjoyable as they show new practices and evaluate clinical concerns that many of us encounter. While all of the presentations and therapeutics reviews were helpful in directing plans for studying over the course of the next few months, it is the opportunities for networking and involvement that were most special to me as a new practitioner attending this year’s PPAG meeting. 

Melissa Ann Rees, PharmD (Resident)
PGY2 Pediatric Pharmacy Resident, UCSF Medical Center – Benioff Children’s Hospital, San Francisco, CA
As a Pediatric PGY2 Resident, PPAG was a wonderful meeting to experience! At a large academic medical institution, sometimes pediatric pharmacists can get lost in the adult shuffle. It was so refreshing to be in an environment with so many like-minded individuals.  Imagine a place where all of the CEs were right up your alley and interesting, instead of having to scour the program for the few pediatric offerings.  Visualize a place where not only are you surrounded by pediatric pharmacists, but there are subspecialty groups to gather with and share ideas amongst!  I met so many new colleagues to network with and felt like a welcome new member of the family. They always told me pediatric pharmacy was a small world, but it’s such a tight knit and wonderful community. 
It’s exhilarating to be able to take part in the very first pediatric pharmacy board certification, and to learn from and meet the individuals who have worked so hard throughout their careers to get our profession to this point.  I was a bit star-struck!  On the other hand, it was also a unique opportunity to interact with and help encourage student pharmacists who are interested in specializing in pediatrics and provide some of the advice I wish I had access to a few short years ago. I would highly encourage any dedicated pediatric pharmacists to experience this meeting for themselves.

Anna Arthur, PharmD Candidate (Student)
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Pharmacy    
As a student pharmacist attending my first ever PPAG Annual Meeting, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Based off of what I had heard from others, I knew that I would have fun and learn new things. I had the opportunity this year to present a poster on Friday along with other student pharmacists, residents, and practitioners. I was nervous at first as this was my first poster presentation experience but I ended up having a really great time. Everyone who stopped by was very nice and I enjoyed being able to talk with them and learn about their own practices and institutions. Friday afternoon there were two great speakers that gave talks specifically for the students attending the meeting. Friday evening brought the social at a local restaurant and bar in downtown Minneapolis. This was a really neat event for everyone to be able to meet and hang out in a more casual setting. As students, we were able to meet and talk with multiple residents and practitioners thanks to this event. Saturday there were two more groups of speakers set up just for the students at the meeting. Overall I think that the speakers were very informative and interesting to listen to. I’m glad that there were speakers discussing residency, future job paths, etc, but I am also glad that we had a session about the basics within pediatrics such as vital signs, normal lab values, and terminology. Saturday afternoon there was a poster session dedicated to the PPAG Student Chapters. Students were able to bring a poster to display and talk about all the exciting things that their chapters have been doing this past year. After this session we were able to attend the resident project presentations, which was very interesting. As students, we were lucky to be able to attend this meeting because it was the most student programming there has ever been at a PPAG Annual Meeting. Thanks to this meeting my excitement for working in pediatrics and being a member of PPAG has grown even more. I cannot wait to see what PPAG has in store for students next year!


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