Pharmacy Student Leaders Throughout California Come Together for Leadership Seminar

USC School of Pharmacy hosted a leadership seminar that brought together pharmacy student leaders from all over California for a day of learning, networking and community building on Saturday, June 23. “Pharmacy Leadership Seminar: Transforming the Profession” was the first event of its kind for the School and was made possible by the Margaret and John Biles Leadership Center.

The idea to organize an event to connect pharmacy student leaders from all over the state was spurred by fourth-year PharmD students Jonathan Hwang and Sandy On, who are both student ambassadors of the school’s Biles Leadership Center.  “We’re all on the same team and need to collectively push to advance the field,” explained Hwang.

Attendees broke off into small groups for discussion. (Photo by Reynaldo Obrero).

The first half of the seminar was dedicated to fostering leadership skills. Keynote speaker Rita Shane, director of pharmacy services at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, presented “What Does Leadership Mean to You?” Laurel Felt, a lecturer in business communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, emphasized the importance of public speaking and gave students tips on how best to reach out to their audiences.

The second half of the day, featuring a presentation by Steve Chen, associate dean for clinical affairs at the USC School of Pharmacy, focused on the theme of disruptive innovation. Five student groups presented on novel initiatives they are spearheading, from a student diversity committee to a medication intervention protocol used within an AIDS healthcare foundation. At the end, USC students presenting on their naloxone distribution program won first place.

“Our goal was to highlight innovative projects that different schools are working on,” Hwang said. “I want the students to be able to say, ‘That’s a great idea, I want to bring that to my school as well.’ ”

Pharmacy student leaders from the following schools attended the seminar: Chapman University, Keck Graduate Institute, Marshall B. Ketchum University, University of California, San Diego, University of California, San Francisco, University of the Pacific, University of Southern California, West Coast University and Western University.

The one-day seminar focused on leadership development and included workshops and a variety of team-building activities. (Photo by Reynaldo Obrero)

“We want to be the center for the leaders of leaders,” said USC School of Pharmacy’s Associate Dean for Student Affairs Susie H. Park. “This event is the perfect example of what we want to communicate to our students — don’t talk about it, just do it, and Jonathan Hwang and Sandy On did just that.”

As technology, the aging U.S. population and other forces shift the landscape of pharmacy, collaborative discussion on how to expand the traditional roles of pharmacy and improve patient care is more vital than ever, student organizers said.

“If the seminar inspires people to do more and believe that we have greater capacity than previously thought, the event would be successful in my mind,” Hwang said.