10 Years, 60 Pharmacists and 175 Students
One of the highlights of the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy’s (MN-COP) Leadership Emphasis Area (LEA) curriculum1 is the Leadership Networking Partners (LNP) program2 that has been in operation since 2007.
Within this experience, students on Duluth and Twin Cities campuses pair with local pharmacists recognized for their influence and impact on the profession. LNP pairs meet several times each semester to engage in discussion on topics, such as examples of leading change in professional roles. The goal of the program is to provide “bi-directional” or shared benefits for both the students and pharmacists in each pair. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, we sought to review the benefits for both pharmacist and student participants.
As might be anticipated, students value the opportunity to receive input and learn from the experiences of recognized, seasoned leaders in pharmacy. LEA students over the years recall their experiences in the LNP program:
“His [LNP Pharmacist] candidness and willingness to give specific, personal examples [of leading change] really helped me to think about the [LEA] material more deeply and in a way that I would have not otherwise considered.”
“[My LNP Pharmacist] provided honest, straight-forward feedback and was a great mentor in helping me think through some of my ideas. [She] helped me develop my vision [for the future].”
“It was inspiring to see how passionate these [LNP] pharmacists were about the profession. Also, it was a great learning experience for me to become exposed to important topics of today’s pharmacy and to learn how the new initiatives are made.”
While it might be anticipated that students would enjoy the program, the benefits to the pharmacists might be less evident. Today, we catch up with two pharmacists from the LNP program: John Pastor, PharmD and Ann Byre, PharmD, to understand the bi-directional impact of the LNP program.
Why did you agree to become involved with the program? What drives your continued involvement?
[AB]: I went to a school where there was no leadership track. Now (as a pharmacist in Minnesota), I have always enjoyed having students from the LEA on rotation or in residency because of their “spark” and ability to articulate long-term goals. ACPE describes a need for leaders in pharmacy, and I agree that conversations around leadership while in pharmacy school would be extremely valuable to apply to practice.
[JP]: Leadership is a topic I enjoy, and even more, I enjoy the energy brought to it by the students. Spending time with students as a part of this program reinvigorates my workday. I also see value in reinvesting in pharmacy’s future and think of my role in the LNP program as a way to pay forward the selflessness of individuals who have contributed to my leadership development.
What has surprised you about the LNP program?
[JP]: About one and a half years ago, a conversation sprung up with the students about pharmacy internship programs in the metro area. It was totally unplanned but resulted in a fantastic roundtable/student consulting panel with a point/counterpoint style of discussion revolving around what is going well and what needs improving in each program. Many of these comments have helped to inform changes I have implemented into Fairview’s internship program, such as hiring a chief pharmacy intern.
[AB]: It has been great to have long-term engagement with mentees after they graduate the LEA program. Several of my mentees keep in touch through residency, first jobs, and now as colleagues in professional organizations.
What have you learned from involvement in this program?
[AB]: The LNP program allows me to bridge my practice with the MN-COP so that I can stay current with the focuses of the curriculum. It has also provided the opportunity to influence small groups of students to hone the skills I desire to see from a “hiring pharmacy leaders” standpoint. I also have enjoyed the opportunity to network not only with student leaders but also with leaders among my peers to learn about what other health systems are doing to advance practice.
[JP]: Time spent in the LNP program has allowed me to strengthen the relationships I have with students and interns outside of the work environment. I echo what Dr. Byre mentioned about gaining insight for practice from what other health systems are doing. When students present their projects from work in other health-systems, I learn things I would have not otherwise without the LNP program; The LNP program creates an avenue for pharmacists to see this work without having to go out and look for it. Lastly, I would say that it has been interesting to stay updated with the MN-COP’s LEA curriculum from a personal perspective so that I can continue exploring my own development in ways outside of those facilitated through my work at Fairview.
From your perspective, what does continued success of this program look like in the future?
[JP]: It would be great to have more time together with the students on formal meet-up days so that pharmacists traveling from farther away can get as much as they can out of the trip. It might also be interesting to incorporate more emerging topics from outside of the pharmacy realm into discussions (such as from Harvard Business Review). I love the small group discussion activities and hope these continue as there is value from both the student’s and the mentor’s perspectives.
[AB]: I hope this program’s results continue to be shared on the national level in terms of the breadth and depth of learning, observations, and outcomes. Doing so may facilitate the beginnings of grassroots efforts of students to plant the seeds of a similar LNP program within student organizations and schools. With benefits provided to both pharmacist mentors and students, it would greatly benefit other colleges and schools of pharmacy to start their own versions of this program.
As the LEA continues to celebrate its 10th year, we are engaging in a comprehensive program evaluation. We look forward to learning more from all the LEA stakeholders, as we actively engage in review and improvement of student leadership development at the MN-COP.
Ann Byre, PharmD, is Vice President of Pharmacy Services at Allina Health in the Greater Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.
John Pastor, PharmD, is a Clinical Associate Professor at the MN-COP. He is also Director of Pharmacy at M Health and System Director for Acute Care Pharmacy Services at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Sorensen TD, Traynor AP, and Janke KK. A pharmacy course on leadership and leading change. Am J Pharm Ed. 2009; 73(2), Article 23. doi: 10.5688/aj730223
- A leadership networking partners program-connecting students and pharmacists for leadership [abstract]. Am J Pharm Ed. 2008; 72(3), Article 72.