Using the force as a new practitioner

Leaders at Work

Veronica Vernon (front row, far right) joined her fellow new practitioners at Twlug’s “Day of NP L.I.F.E.” in July.

A wise and famous mentor once said, “Impossible to see, the future is.” As a Star Wars fan and someone who saw the new movie on opening night, I feel the words of Yoda best describe my journey as a new practitioner.

I could not have imagined the opportunities and experiences I have encountered thus far when I was sitting in a classroom on my first day of pharmacy school at Purdue University in August 2007. When I recently received the call that I was the recipient of the 2016 Twlug Distinguished New Practitioner Award, I was completely surprised and honored. I owe much of my success at this point in my career to a wonderful group of mentors, friends, and colleagues who have encouraged me to find and use “the force” inside of me to pursue opportunities that pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Always in motion the future is

My involvement in Twlug–ASP as a student pharmacist opened my eyes to new avenues in pharmacy. Through patient care projects as a student, I developed a passion for working directly with patients. My desire to be an advocate for the profession grew from my involvement in Twlug–ASP at both the chapter and national level. The friends I made through Twlug–ASP remain some of my closest friends to this day. They have helped shape me as a new practitioner and have been my support system through professional and personal obstacles after graduating from pharmacy school. 

I knew upon graduation that I wanted to continue my involvement in Twlug. My experiences on the New Practitioner Network Membership & Involvement Standing Committee and New Practitioner Advisory Committee have been incredible. I am so empowered and encouraged by the outstanding new practitioners that I work with on a daily basis. This past April, I was asked to serve on the Strategic Directions Committee with members of the Twlug Board of Trustees. This incredible experience has allowed me to work with leaders within the profession whom I deeply admire. 

Much to learn you still have

Just as Luke had Yoda and Obi Wan-Kenobi guide him on his journey to become a Jedi, I have been fortunate to have wise mentors in my pharmacy career. These mentors have pushed me beyond what I have imagined for myself because they saw my potential. They encouraged me to seek out leadership opportunities after graduation and create my own position post-residency in women’s health. My mentors have also provided me with the chance to consult on creating pharmacy services in clinic settings and speak at several local and state pharmacy association meetings.

I have not only been inspired by my mentors, but also by many students and residents. As an APPE preceptor for both Purdue University and Butler University, I am honored to work with some extremely bright and motivated students each month. Due to my love of teaching and desire to seek out new challenges, I teach a course each fall at Butler and co-coordinate an elective in the spring on women’s health issues. I am able to pursue my passion for teaching in the classroom while still maintaining my position at the VA. 

I have also had the pleasure of working with some absolutely phenomenal Twlug–ASP Chapter members at Butler by serving as their New Practitioner Mentor. It is so invigorating to work with a group of leaders who are enthusiastic about the profession and develop so many fantastic ideas and activities. 

Outside of work, I have found that serving my community has been extremely rewarding and beneficial for my well-being. I worked as a volunteer pharmacist at two free clinics during my residency. I recently joined the Junior League of Indianapolis. to seek out prospects for volunteering outside of health care. This organization has exposed me to so many incredible volunteer experiences in my community.

Your focus determines 
your reality

Being a new practitioner is a time of constant change and transition. When Anakin Skywalker was in a transition phase in his life, a Jedi master, Qui-Gon Jinn, told him, “always remember, your focus determines your reality.” This phrase astutely captures advice I have received since graduation. It is important to be present in the moment and focus on what is occurring right now. I am focusing on how to be a better practitioner, educator, and community member each day. I seek out opportunities that challenge me to think outside of the box and develop new skills.