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OPA Student Rotation - "What an Eye Opener!"

Mona Tannous, B.S. Candidate, OSU and

OPA Student Rotation
Mona Tannous, B.S. Candidate, OSU and OPA Extern

I came to this rotation site as a fifth-year B.S. Pharmacy candidate, just two quarters away from graduating. I knew of the million and one opportunities for pharmacists in clinical, community, industry, and hospital settings and that I wouldn’t have a problem finding a job. You can understand my astonishment in learning that there was a completely different side of the profession of pharmacy at OPA.

The Ohio Pharmacists Association is an outstanding organization whose existence is critical to the profession. I was amazed with the vast areas of activities handled by the Association. I was impressed with the hospitality extended by the staff and their willingness to involve me in each of these facets.

On my first day of rotation, I attended an Ohio State Board of Pharmacy hearing where I met several Board members and witnessed an adjudication hearing. I realized pretty quickly that the purpose of the Board is to protect the public and not just to make me report intern hours. I learned that OPA works with the Board on many issues and legislative matters.

Next, I began writing articles for the Ohio Pharmacist journal, as well as editing other pieces. I was able to choose and research topics that interested me, and provide advice on other written projects as well. I felt that I was actually part of the journal production as my input was considered and incorporated into the final copy.

The staff also included me in staff and member meetings, such as the Employee Special Interest Group (SIG), Bioterrorism Preparedness, and Legislative Committee meetings. The several topics discussed ranged from continuing education programming, to the pharmacy workforce shortage and finally to HB 4, with the debate over the Golden Buckeye Discount Drug Card.

The next classroom that I ventured into was the Ohio Statehouse, where I met several state senators and representatives. OPA Lobbyists Ernie Boyd and Alyson Welsh took me to House Health Committee meetings. I heard heated debates regarding bills that, if passed, could impact pharmacy practice as we know it. I witnessed the frustration and persistence that Ernie and Alyson engage in on a daily basis, as well as the determination and pride that they have toward their work. Alyson and I had lunch with Senator Robert Spada, the senator from my hometown district.

OPA, among other state associations, will present a poster in the Historic Poster Showcase at APhA’s Sesquicentennial meeting this month in Philadelphia. I helped research information and design the poster.

One of my largest, and still ongoing tasks, is my involvement the Annual Conference and Trade Show planning. I enjoyed assisting in student program planning, brochure preparation, and program marketing. I am proud to have helped in such a great Conference and am excited to see the final product of my efforts.

What an eye-opener! I am leaving OPA with a better understanding of the political and economic realities that coincide with healthcare legislation, as well as a new appreciation for the Association and its function. I am appalled that OPA, fighting to protect the ever-changing profession of pharmacy, has only one third of the pharmacists in the state as members. Maybe this is because I, as well as others, have come to rely on the fact that we will always have a respected well-paying job, and that healthcare is independent of a recessing economy. But we must remember that the profession is not immune to a changing society and technological advancements. Pharmacy has a very strong and sturdy domain that will remain, but the area that it encompasses and expands to is up to us.

I’ve assigned myself some long-term homework and that is to remain involved in OPA and in contact with its wonderful staff. I am excited to graduate and begin my career, but it is also time for me to make a contribution! If I can give a little back and help to preserve the vitality of this fine profession, the outcome is far more gratifying than an “A” on any exam. Thank you, OPA, for treating me as more than a student and involving me in such a rewarding experience!

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