P4 student Vinny Rotunno shares how getting involved in pharmacy student organizations has helped him grow as a leader and future pharmacist.
Why Rotunno gets involved in pharmacy organizations
Vinny Rotunno was selected as one of eleven Regional Liaisons for Phi Lambda Sigma. Recently, he answered some questions we had about his recognition. Also, he talked about his involvement in pharmacy organizations on campus and nationwide.
Note: His responses are in italics.
Could you explain the what it means to be chosen as a Regional Liaison for Phi Lambda Sigma?
It’s an honor to be appointed as one of Phi Lambda Sigma’s Regional Liaisons for the upcoming year. I had already served my one-year term as PLS Chapter President last year. So, I was already committed to staying involved with PLS as I began my Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) rotations. Serving as a Regional Liaison was the ideal position for me. This position allows me to work directly with the PLS National Office and other leaders across the country.
Leading and collaborating across the country
I’m assigned to the B region. This includes pharmacy schools in Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Canada’s University of British Columbia – Vancouver. As part of my responsibilities, I will hold monthly meetings with Presidents of PLS Chapters at the schools of pharmacy that fall within my region. By having these meetings and getting to know chapter leaders, I will be able to serve as a resource and source of information for the chapters. I’ll be there to help them meet their chapter needs and achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves over the year. Also, these meetings serve as a space for communication between chapters. They’re a place that promotes collaboration for events to offer their chapter members. I’m responsible for sharing information with the Presidents that comes directly from the National Members-at-Large and others within the National Office of PLS.
Each PLS chapter runs differently. I’m looking forward to learning more about the specific needs of each school I work with. Coming from a newer pharmacy school, I especially understand some of the challenges that smaller chapters can experience. I aim to help newer chapters expand their opportunities. I hope to help them leverage the larger, more established chapters in my region. I’m also looking forward to promoting PLS events across chapters. This would allow pharmacy students from different schools to interact and create connections within PLS.
You were also appointed to the ASHP Career and Leadership Development Advisory Group as a student representative. What does this opportunity mean for you?
I have always actively utilized the resources that ASHP provides to pharmacy students. They’ve been beneficial to me in determining my career goals. I saw that ASHP was accepting applications for individuals interested in serving on an advisory group. The advisory group’s goal is to help develop materials for students. I jumped at this opportunity. Being selected to serve on this committee out of a pool of many qualified applicants is a tremendous honor for me.
Serving on this committee allows me to work with other pharmacy students across the country to advise ASHP. We’ll advise ASHP on materials regarding professional development and career exploration opportunities for pharmacy students. This position also allows for open communication on how we can contribute to the effort to support the growth and development of future pharmacy leaders.
Our advisory group is specifically responsible for a few key tasks. We evaluating current student leadership resources available through ASHP, creating new materials, and collaborating with ASHP staff. This promotes networking and mentoring resources for pharmacy students. Within our advisory group, we will also form smaller groups to work more closely to brainstorm ideas and work on specific initiatives throughout the year.
This is my first formal leadership role with ASHP. I’m looking forward to this opportunity allowing me to make connections with others in the organization. I also look forward to increased involvement with ASHP throughout my career in pharmacy. We just had our first meeting as an advisory group in August, and I am excited to see what the year offers.
You’ve been very involved in professional development and academic groups. Why is it important for pharmacy students to get involved in organizations?
Getting involved with pharmacy organizations as a student is an excellent opportunity to build your network. You’ll learn more about the pharmacy profession as well. Also, each pharmacy organization has something unique to offer to its members. Students naturally learn more about their interests and move through school. Becoming more involved with organizations can help foster growth and development in becoming a pharmacist.
Take advantage of general memberships early in pharmacy school. This allows you to gain exposure to the mission and goals of different pharmacy organizations. Additionally, it can help you decide what you want to become more involved with. Not only do these organizations offer an already substantial network full of other pharmacy students and practicing pharmacists, but leadership roles offered at schools of pharmacy and the National level allow for more meaningful involvement for students.
It was important for me early on in school to learn as much as possible about the pharmacy profession. I wanted to gain experience in leadership roles to set myself up well for my career. Healthcare is a dynamic field. The pharmacy profession needs leaders who can promote practice advancement to improve the care being provided to patients. Being actively involved in pharmacy organizations is just one way to be involved in the positive change taking place in the profession. This also contributes to the improvement of pharmacy services available to patients. In addition to organization involvement, continual investment in personal development is crucial to get the most out of your career while doing your best to serve your patients.
What made you want to become a pharmacist?
As I advanced through high school and undergrad, I became increasingly interested in the healthcare field. As I started to pursue graduate school and began to gauge which career path would fit best for me, pharmacy was an initial field that attracted me.
I got my first job in pharmacy between the 2nd and 3rd years of my undergraduate studies. I was working with my brother, who was a pharmacy intern at the time and is now a pharmacist. Through this experience, I was intrigued by the knowledge, skillset, and overall role of a pharmacist. Ultimately, I decided to enroll in pharmacy school. After completing my first pharmacy rotation in a hospital setting, I was drawn even more to the role and responsibilities of a clinical pharmacist. Since then, I have been dedicated to pursuing a career in pharmacy within a health system.
My interests have continued to evolve as I have progressed through school. I’ve become committed to pursuing a career in pharmacy administration. I like that this career path gives me exposure to various areas in pharmacy. It also comes with the opportunity to impact patient care at a larger level. I also enjoy being involved in the conversations and decision-making that are needed to carry out process and quality improvement projects. Ultimately, these processes and projects aim to enhance pharmacy services offered to patients. Overall, I can confidently say that choosing to become a pharmacist is one of the best decisions I could have made for myself. I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for me in this profession.
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