Home is where the heart is, even when you’re from out-of-state
The car is packed and ready for the move. For some, a one-way plane ticket is booked. It’s the beginning of a whole new life, in a new place, with new people, in a different state. Oh, and by the way, you are about to start pharmacy school, which for many, is the most challenging academic undertaking they will experience.
As countless people transition this fall from student to student pharmacist, the question of being involved in organizations on the chapter, regional, or national level will be raised. For those students moving out of state, the hope is that their passion and involvement does not leave their mind. Out-of-state students are looking to make new friends, get involved with the community, and share their passion for pharmacy, and a great way to do this is by joining Twlug–ASP.
By way of …
Fast-forward to orientation and the first days of class. For the out-of-staters, the answer to, “Where are you from?” becomes a rehearsed response, especially if it is not a major city or immediately recognized area. “Oh, I live about 2 hours west of (insert city).” “I’m from (insert far-off state).” Or “Just south of (insert major landmark).” This, too, is a part of transitioning and can be difficult in its own right.
Established student leaders, faculty, and staff have a great opportunity to make this transition easier. For me, saying, “Tennessee by way of Virginia” felt right because of the welcoming atmosphere in my new home.
Success at ETSU + mix of students
As the 10th birthday of my new home, the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy, inches closer, I reflected on what has made the college successful since its founding and what has driven our most recent successes. Our mission is to develop progressive pharmacists that improve health care, focusing on rural and underserved communities. The mission speaks not only to our focus, but the school’s place in the Appalachian region. We are very proud of our chapter for recently earning the Generation Rx National Award (see related story, page 14) and the Twlug–ASP Chapter Policy and Legislative Award at Twlug2015 in San Diego. As one may expect, the students that fuel these efforts are not only from Tennessee. Immediate past Twlug–ASP Speaker of the House Loren Kirk hales from North Carolina, and played a large part in propelling our chapter and countless others throughout the country with this mindset: “Pharmacy is being practiced in your community, your congressional district, your state, and where you will eventually call home,” he said. “Advocating for pharmacy advances the entire profession wherever it’s being practiced. This is why it’s crucial to become an advocate right now, right where you are.”
Like many others, Kirk understands how our college has fostered a culture for students from across the United States. “ETSU successfully engages out-of-state student pharmacists in state association advocacy initiatives,” Kirk said. Out-of-state students come from areas where the practice of pharmacy is different. In helping to advance legislation to establish collaborative pharmacy practice, ETSU and other Tennessee colleges of pharmacy encouraged students to get involved.
The successful passage of the legislation in 2014 was due in part to the engagement of student pharmacists and the hundreds of letters being sent to policymakers from student pharmacists. These letters included countless stories of how these now “transplanted” students are already providing care to the patients of Tennessee and their ideas for how the practice of pharmacy will now be changed going forward.
The last three classes to enter ETSU are comprised of 44% Tennesseans, 83% regional (Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia) residents, and 17% residents from other states. Generation Rx at ETSU developed an immediate connection for our regional and out-of-state students due to the impact of prescription drug abuse within the Appalachian region. Newly minted student pharmacists, donning fresh white coats, are able to take a problem seen in their hometown and begin their ability to create positive change.
Your passion lived
Ultimately, your pursuits in pharmacy school relate back to your passion and why you chose this profession. If you are a new student about to begin your first year, or a student pharmacist returning to what has become your new home, find the passion that challenges you to make your out-of-state impact in your new state.
Develop the culture in your school by collaborating with your out-of-staters. This will help them settle in to their new home, grow as leaders within your chapter and community, and practice pharmacy wherever they are.
Scott Brewster is a third-year PharmD candidate at the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy.