A platform for all student pharmacists in North Carolina

Together We Can

The future is uncertain, but its direction can certainly be influenced. As student pharmacists, we are charged to reshape the future of the pharmacy profession. This begins with individual efforts within our communities. In order to expand the impact of change on a statewide level, individuals and organizations must work collectively.

North Carolina is home to three established schools of pharmacy: the Campbell University School of Pharmacy, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Wingate University School of Pharmacy. Each program has significant influence within their respective communities. Unfortunately, no organized platform existed to connect students across schools, and thus, statewide collaboration was 
limited and scattered.

In 2013, two roommates, staying up and talking too late as usual, envisioned an organization that could engage and unite all North Carolina student pharmacists in the advancement of the pharmacy profession for the benefit of society. Such an organization would serve two purposes: to allow the two roommates to remain connected despite attending different schools of pharmacy, and to serve as a platform for students to exchange ideas, coordinate statewide initiatives, and strengthen relationships among future leaders in the profession.

Collaboration is the core

This bold idea soon found strong support among a coalition of student pharmacists representing each school of pharmacy. The coalition was named the Student Pharmacist Network (SPN). Embracing the spirit of the roommates’ vision, the coalition worked together in developing the organization’s framework, which marked the beginning of a more resilient student front for the advancement of the pharmacy profession within our state. 

Collaboration is embedded in the core of SPN. Each school of pharmacy is represented by three student leaders, and the executive chair position rotates among the schools annually. This structure ensures equal opportunity for influence by each school.

After months of meetings via Web conferencing, student pharmacists representing each school of pharmacy presented SPN to the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists (NCAP) Board of Directors. By investing in the student voice, NCAP could build a stronger connection with future members while strengthening its advocacy influence on state legislation.

On December 18, 2014, the NCAP Board approved SPN, officially adopting the student organization. The SPN Chair reports to and votes on behalf of SPN at NCAP board meetings.

Overcoming differences

Building SPN has taught us many lessons, all of which are underscored by a common theme—promoting the success of the future is not without obstacles, but each obstacle can be overcome through teamwork and the Internet. 

With students spread across the state, we had to overcome differences from curricula and organizational structures to schedules and physical location. Web-based video conferencing significantly eased many logistical concerns and other obstacles provided an opportunity to learn from one another and see how our differences would become our strength as a group. 

Each student leader contributes unique knowledge regarding pharmacy education, practice, and their community’s needs across the North Carolina landscape, which provides a wealth of opportunities for SPN to make a difference. Furthermore, leaders share their SPN experiences with their respective student organizations to strengthen local community outreach efforts.

To date, SPN has advanced its vision by spearheading statewide and collaborative provider status advocacy campaigns, health fairs, annual student leadership conferences, social media discussions, residency preparation seminars, and social gatherings.

Forging lasting relationships

As a new entity, our initial focus is to simply bring people together both physically and virtually. SPN’s goal is to foster connections that extend much deeper than just recognizing a face and the casual “hello” at conferences. Sustaining intimate relationships creates an environment that encourages and supports progressing the profession and enhancing patient care. The efforts of each school are crucial for supporting the health of their immediate community. The united efforts of us all foster the growth of the whole state. 

Together, SPN and its statewide partners are leading change for the pharmacy profession across North Carolina. Now the question is, how are you influencing your state?