PPA News

Posted by: Matthew Helms on Jan 14, 2016


In his Annual Address last year Jared Cash, President of PPAG, read to us a children’s book named The Three Questions by Jon Muth. The book tells the story about a boy named Nikolai, who is searching for the answers to three important questions:

When is the best time to do things?
Who is the most important one?
What is the right thing to do?

As Nikolai searches for the answers he is distracted by a family in crisis and in need of his help. He does not hesitate to push aside his questions and help them. With the words of a wise friend, Nikolai discovers he already knows (and lives) the answers to the questions. His wise friend explains, “Remember… that there is only one important time, and that time is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side. For these, my dear boy, are the answers to what is most important in this world… This is why we are here.”

Certainly, it is a bit unusual for an association President to read from a children’s book during a Town Hall Meeting. We usually hear about our successes, areas of concern, bottom line, and plans for the following year. But Jared frames our story differently. And you, our members, continue to prove that PPAG is more than a professional society concerned only about the numbers. PPAG is family.

The week we found out that my son, Garrett, was diagnosed with cancer, we received three care packages. These first three packages were from PPAG members, and each remembered to include something for Garrett’s sister, Wesli, understanding that she might feel left out. Your support did not relent over the next two years. We continued to receive letters, cards, and your prayers throughout Garrett’s battle. Many of you followed Garrett’s story on Facebook and CaringBridge. Since his death in October, you have donated to Garrett’s Memorial Fund, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and PPAG in his memory. My family sincerely appreciates your support and generosity. I am grateful for the personal time the PPAG Board, and each of you, have given as my family navigates through a difficult time.

How appropriate it is to frame this particular year with the story of Nikolai!

Many of you have asked how we are doing. To be honest there are “good” days and bad days, but there is never an easy day. We are both comforted and saddened by memories of Garrett. He was a unique and special boy. We miss him dearly. We are in what some call “the time in between” – the space between the death of a loved one and the time you figure out how to live with it. We know our burden will not go away, but will be carried forever.

We all must thank Dr. Jennifer Chow, our Director of Professional Development, for her efforts while I took some time away from the office. She filled in during a very busy time at PPAG. Think about it! During the past year, we

  1. published our first Textbook,
  2. developed and offered our first Board Prep programs with two live conferences and an interactive Home-study program,
  3. launched a new website and
  4. began bi-monthly publication of JPPT.

These accomplishments would be impressive any year – but they are especially impressive this year. From board meetings, to updating the website, to answering your questions, to shipping books, to administering webinars, and planning our Annual Conference, Jennifer is just awesome. She is an integral part of our success this past year. I am forever grateful to her.

Although we define ourselves differently than other professional societies and associations, our Committees and staff are still very busy working on the “business” of PPAG. Here are a few things you should expect from us in the near future.

  1. In the coming weeks you will receive information about our up and coming Annual Conference. Our 25th Annual Conference in Alanta, Georgia this April, will offer two specialty blocks (NICU and Nutrition/GI) with our first BCPPS-Recertification track. The recertification track will offer unique and original content relevant to NICU and Nutrition/GI. The Annual Conference features programming developed by members specifically for members.
  2. We will launch an on-demand (online) 20-hour BCPPS Review and Recertification program, based on our live programming in 2015.
  3. We will open our online apparel store. You will be able to purchase PPAG t-shirts, polo shirts, sweat shirts/pants, cups, tote bags, etc. You’ll also be able to purchase “Pediatric Pharmacist- Board Certified” products as well. 
  4. We will offer monthly CE webinars, some of these webinars will be approved for Recertification credit. 

In closing I’d like to add one more thing. Pediatric pharmacists are different. You are enthusiastic, proud, and dedicated pharmacists. It is literally felt by the entire pharmacy profession. When BPS needed letters of support for pediatrics during the petition process, they received more than 300 letters. Other specialty areas sent about 255 fewer letters. We sent a few requests and received an overwhelming response. PPAG is not the biggest and greatest pharmacy organization…but we won’t be outworked by anyone.

Associations can be messy, and PPAG is no different. But if you embrace the messiness, it can be a lot of fun. PPAG is able to accomplish so many things because of volunteer members who help “do the work” of PPAG. So join the messy fun! If you’ve let your membership slip, rejoin. If you aren’t a member of a Committee, Task Force, or Special Interest Group, volunteer. Be a part of this gritty, compassionate and spectacular experience we call PPAG!

Most importantly, stay in touch! I have been back at the office on a regular basis for a while and I want to hear from you, even if it’s just to say “hey, how are you?” Jenni, Wesli and I would like to say a very deep and heartfelt “thank you” for all of your support over the past two years.

I feel very lucky to have this privilege of serving as your Executive Director. PPAG’s work is as important to me as it is to you, and I’m excited to see what the future brings.

With Warmest Regards,


Garrett Andrew Helms
May 20, 2003 - October 25, 2015