Sarah Lowry, PharmD Candidate 2017 Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Attending the 25th Annual Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG) Meeting was an exciting experience. As a student leader of Butler University’s PPAG chapter, Pediatric Pharmacy Education Done by Students (PPEDS), I was thrilled to be immersed in pediatric pharmacy for five days of learning, engaging, and discovering. As this was my first PPAG conference, I was unsure of what to expect initially, however by the end of the first day, my expectations were exceeded by a comprehensive schedule of events and learning opportunities.
This conference helped me grow my clinical knowledge. I learned about multiple pediatric disciplines at a higher level beyond the classroom, about other institutions’ protocols, research, and practice, and networked with students, residents, and pharmacists from all over the country. I shared a hotel room with my classmates and our hospital’s PGY2 pediatric pharmacy resident. Erudite as it may sound, we enjoyed good quality time discussing interesting posters, commendable presenters, and multiple aspects of residency. The resident presentations were one of my favorite parts of the conference. It was interesting to see the various programs and their research and for gaining tips to improve my own presentation skills. It didn’t hurt that my Butler University professors assigned us multiple daily tasks encouraging us to break out of our comfort zones, such as meeting new people of various ages and identifying favorite presentations. As I heard from several PPAG members, the benefit of meeting others within the pharmacy profession is insurmountable and are connections that will last a lifetime. Presenting a poster with my classmates on our recent research was exhilarating, and we had a great experience exhibiting our hard work. The pharmacists in attendance were very encouraging as they engaged us in conversation and asked us about our research and future plans. I am excited and pleased to say that my experience at the meeting has reinforced my decision to pursue my passion for pediatric pharmacy as I finish my last year of pharmacy school. I recommend that future students experience PPAG’s Annual Meeting for themselves.
For my next PPAG conference, I look forward to meeting even more awesome people and learning more about current topics in pediatric pharmacy. In all, I feel humbled to be a member of such a remarkable organization that demonstrates concern for the well-being of children through promotion of safe and effective medication use. The organization achieves this through communication, education, and research, all of which are encompassed in the annual PPAG meeting.
I attended my first ever PPAG meeting as a PGY-2 Pediatric Resident. The primary draw was the opportunity to present my residency research project. However, this was only 12 minutes of the 5-day conference, and I opted to stay for the entirety. I was excited to finally attend a conference that offered programming specific to my area of interest that I could apply to my future practice, and the educational sessions at PPAG did not disappoint. I saved all of the presentation handouts and within weeks after the meeting found myself referencing several handouts to refresh my memory or pull an article citation. When it came time for PPAG committee meetings and special interest group meetings, I assumed they were not for me since I was a brand new member of PPAG at my first meeting, far from being a member of any committee. Fortunately, one of my mentors encouraged me to attend the committee meetings and see if one piqued my interest. By the end of the afternoon, I had joined the Membership Committee and the New Practitioner Special Interest Group and exchanged contact information with several other new-to-PPAG residents who were excited to get involved and had lots of inspiring ideas. I would encourage every pediatric resident to attend the PPAG Annual Meeting and get involved; I could not have imagined a more welcoming organization for new practitioners.
New Practitioner Reflection
Many remarkable things can be said about the 2016 PPAG Annual Meeting this year – especially in response to the movie-star location, excellent programming and speakers, touching keynote addresses, award presentations and moving tribute to Garrett Helms. As a new practitioner I feel like all of this is summarized by the greatest feeling of all: coming home to family. When you are no longer in training, it is easy to feel somewhat removed from the community you came from, and sometimes it seems like you are the only one facing certain daily trials. But then the PPAG annual meeting takes place and you are reminded of the great voice this organization brings to pediatric pharmacy practice, and you leave feeling recharged with a greater purpose. As a new practitioner, that purpose changed for me this year. I was no longer a student being introduced to this international community or a resident seeking a specialty niche. Instead, I reflect on this overwhelming sense of gratitude and new responsibility. I feel gratitude for the mentors I have within this organization – mentors who first introduced me to pediatrics and who trained and supported me through every stage of my professional career. I also feel gratitude for those mentors and members who have been with PPAG since its beginning. They persevered with this organization and helped shape the way we care for children today. This instills in me a great desire to give back to my patients, pharmacists in training, and larger medical community by staying actively involved within PPAG and continuing the legacy. Thank you, PPAG!