Getting Involved in Pharmacy School: A Guide to Pharmacy Organizations

Pharmacy students attending a pharmacy organization event.
Want to know the benefits of joining a pharmacy organization? Here is the list of popular organizations, along with our recommendations.
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Pharmacy students attending a pharmacy organization event.
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Let’s face it: pharmacy school is intense. From studying for major exams to completing rotations, a student’s time is limited, but becoming a member of a pharmacy organization is worth it. Pharmacy organizations advocate for the profession. Membership can consist of pharmacists, students, and pharmacy technicians, allowing a dedicated focus on relevant pharmacy topics. Pharmacy associations also collaborate with other interprofessional healthcare organizations to create professional statements and guidelines that optimize patient care and support positive change. There are a variety of professional pharmacy organizations, and selecting those that align with your interests is important. This article will provide a list of several organizations available to pharmacy students and focus on key aspects of who they are and how they can offer opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

Benefits Of Joining A Pharmacy Organization

Pharmacy organization membership can enhance your pharmacy school experience by offering exposure to different career paths, unique leadership development, and mentorship. Joining a pharmacy organization is mutually beneficial; member participation is critical to the organization’s success, and the organization provides substantial opportunities and resources to the member. Becoming involved in a pharmacy organization is often easiest while in school because participation is geared towards the student’s schedule and location. Most national pharmacy organizations will have smaller affiliate chapters at the state or local levels that can offer additional opportunities for student participation. Starting locally can lead to professional and personal development and eventual involvement in larger roles on a regional or national level. 

Professional Benefits

Active participation in pharmacy organizations builds your curriculum vitae (CV), which gives you a competitive advantage for internships, residencies, and future jobs. Pharmacy organizations offer a variety of community service experiences such as participation in health fairs, immunization clinics, and medication reviews, allowing students to give back to their community while developing their drug knowledge and counseling skills. 

“Attending conferences hosted by these organizations allows you to build a strong professional network that can lead to clinical practice opportunities. Pharmacy associations provide job posting boards and residency application resources that are available only to members.”

Personal Benefits 

Finding mentors within the profession is an important step to being successful. Pharmacy associations provide an instant network of pharmacists that are eager to help students develop personally and professionally. Putting yourself out there may seem intimidating at first, but the connections you make with fellow students and pharmacists can help you discover your passion and directly contribute to your professional success.

Almost all pharmacy associations offer reduced membership fees for students. Members are frequently eligible for discounts on a variety of products, such as books, certificate training programs, professional liability insurance, and student loans.

There are many professional pharmacy organizations. The following list of popular pharmacy organizations for students offers information to help you decide which organization complements your personal goals and professional objectives.

American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)

ACCP has 15,000 clinical pharmacist members and provides leadership, advocacy, and resources enabling clinical pharmacists to achieve excellence in practice, research, and education. Focused on clinical pharmacy, membership allows access to student-tailored resources like a CV review service and a toolkit designed to create a standout residency application. ACCP also sponsors a student clinical pharmacy challenge competition.

American College of Veterinary Pharmacists (ACVP)

ACVP members are a select group of independent community practitioners dedicated to solving unique problems and creating niche markets in veterinary compounding. The organization focuses on collaboration with veterinarians to provide optimal care for non-human patients and provides member education to practice as knowledgeable veterinary pharmacists. ACVP offers benefits to students including scholarships, access to a membership listserv and education center, and publication opportunities.

American Pharmacists Association (APhA-ASP)

With over 60,000 members, APhA is the largest pharmacy organization in the United States, encompassing a broad range of pharmacy professionals. They strive to foster the expertise of their members with a focus on patient care. They are committed to advocating on behalf of the student by providing numerous opportunities, including scholarships and leadership roles within the organization. Among a host of conferences, APhA holds a prominent annual meeting and exposition that gathers pharmacists from various practice settings and levels to apprise you of the most recent clinical research and information. If you are uncertain about which niche in practice is right for you, APhA is an excellent resource to expose you to the many areas of specialty pharmacy.

American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP)

ASCP focuses on providing education, advocacy, and resources to advance the practice of senior care pharmacy and supporting consultant pharmacists that work with elderly patients. ASCP aims to improve the lives of aging individuals through medication therapy management and to provide the tools necessary to address the unique medication needs of older adults. Student members have access to monthly webinars, journals, toolkits, focus groups, and a career center. Discounts are also available for national meetings.

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)

ASHP represents pharmacists who serve as patient care providers in acute and ambulatory settings spanning the full spectrum of medication use. ASHP has over 60,000 members that include pharmacists, student pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians. Free membership is offered to all P1 students and is discounted for P2-P4 students. Student membership provides access to features including a CV review service, journals, dedicated topic resource centers, and member discounts. ASHP hosts four live national meetings each year, including the Midyear Clinical Meeting. This meeting is home to the residency showcase (where prospective residents can meet with residency programs) and the Personnel Placement Service (PPS), the largest national pharmacy recruitment event held annually. It is also where the national Clinical Skills Competition is held, allowing teams of two students from each school to compete for prizes. 

National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)

NCPA supports the advancement of the independent pharmacist through a community-centered approach. Its mission is to ensure that independent community pharmacies can compete in the retail market so that patients in the community are afforded the best pharmacy health care available. Representing more than 19,400 independent pharmacies, NCPA advocates for legislation at both state and national levels to support community pharmacies in a dynamic healthcare market. Students in this pharmacy organization have an opportunity to earn a scholarship through a pharmacy ownership workshop competition. 

The Pediatric Pharmacy Association (PPA)

PPA promotes the safe and effective use of medication in children through collaboration, advocacy, research, and education. PPA has over 1,800 members and strives to advance pediatric pharmacy practice. The organization offers therapeutic position statements on critical pediatric topics, an online information resource for caregivers and families, and two live conferences each year that provide student programming. A dedicated council serves the pharmacy student membership to engage in pediatric pharmacy practice and develop leaders in the profession. 

Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA)

SNPhA is an educational service association dedicated to serving the underserved in partnership with the National Pharmaceutical Association. The goal of SNPhA is to plan and coordinate programs geared toward the improvement of the health, educational, and social environment of minority communities. SNPhA also develops a positive image of minority healthcare professionals within the healthcare team and community. Membership provides access to community engagement, scholarships, sponsor-led competitions highlighting pharmacy skills, and a residency and fellowship showcase. Students also have the opportunity to participate in regional and national conferences.

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