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Bringing the Practice Advancement Initiative (PAI) to Life for Students

By Danielle Beltz posted 05-02-2016 11:05


Bringing the Practice Advancement Initiative (PAI) to Life for Students

A body of research demonstrates that pharmacy practice advancement is for the good of our patients. PAI is also beneficial for all of us – both pharmacists and student pharmacists. To bring students to PAI, and to solicit their personal investment, we must start with why.  Why does practice advancement matter to students personally? Why should they get involved in practice advancement as students, rather than leaving it to established pharmacists who know more and are already in the profession?  Students tend to believe that established practitioners have it all figured out, and that they can simply take their place among the professional ranks upon graduation.  In reality, there are many students who will soon enter the workforce, and we will need to assist pharmacists to carve a place for ourselves in the evolving healthcare environment.  Students need to understand the extent of ground still left to cover to fully realize the promise of PAI for patients and for our profession. 

To me, it is a matter of personal investment. Pharmacy students and new pharmacists are already among the most invested in practice advancement, even if they do not realize it yet. We are already fully invested in patient care due to the pharmacy educational model, our career expectations, and our investment in training.   Why not openly consider the time and investment involved to complete a pharmacy doctorate program:  including six to eight years of training, student loans, and tremendous effort to succeed, as full investment in what happens to our pharmacy profession? 

To get students involved in NEOMED, we start with these very reasons why students are already invested and the genuine need to expend a little more effort to realize the benefit of that investment. Without the practice advancement framework in place, many of us will not be able to practice at the level to which we are trained or have our expectations for our career fulfilled. As part of PPMI (now PAI) week, we start with an educational session on what is practice advancement and why it matters to students, then invite advanced practice pharmacists to present each day of the week on practice innovation.

Pharmacy innovators in practice who are passionate about patient care are very inspirational to students.  During PPMI week and throughout the year, we host practitioners who exemplify advanced practice to share their stories.  It would be useful to record these practitioners wherever they are, so that schools that don’t have as much access to advanced practitioners ready to speak on their advanced practice can ignite their own members.

Not every SSHP has the resources, strength of team, or access to advanced practice pharmacists to develop a PAI program effectively. Because of this, I propose the production of a series of engaging videos for use by local SSHPs. The videos could be 15 to 20 minutes long and the basis for a chapter meeting.  For example, the meeting would start with an introduction by leadership, possibly some chapter business, the video, and food.  All pharmacy students, interested faculty and medical students could be invited as well. 

PAI Video Series:

  1. WHY PRACTICE ADVANCEMENT? What is practice advancement and why does it matter to students? What could future pharmacy careers look like with and without PAI? 
  2. HOW DOES ADVANCED PRACTICE WORK? What is a pharmacy practice framework? What are examples of a decentralized model? Why must we embrace emerging technologies in order to reach patients?
  3. ADVANCED PRACTICE IN ACTION: What patient care related services can pharmacists provide, and what are the benefits to patients? How do these services impact the growth potential for our profession?
  4. THE ADVOCACY CONNECTION: What is provider status and why does it matter to students?
  5. PHARMACY INNOVATORS: A series of Ted like videos that provide case studies of pharmacists and health systems that are leading innovation in practice advancement.

 Providing videos to enable these events on campus is an important first step. The creation of these videos may be fostered by contests or recognition programs for students, residents and new practitioners.   Perhaps just as important is connecting students across pharmacy schools to a common purpose. This can be done via social media and needs ASHP Connect enhancement or expansion.  At NEOMED, we have found that when we share, other schools adapt and improve upon our ideas. One example of this is our Provider Status Wall which was adopted by Virginia Commonwealth and is in progress at other pharmacy schools.

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