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Kristen N. Gardner, PharmD
Clinical Pharmacy Specialist – Behavioral Health
Kaiser Permanente Colorado

As a new practitioner who just completed residency training and has been a member of CPNP since my first year in pharmacy school, I am thankful for the CPNP difference. I would like to share with you my experience with the organization and how my development as a student, resident, and new practitioner was impacted.

I first learned about CPNP during my first year in pharmacy school from a faculty member practicing in the specialty. I immediately took advantage of the 6-month free membership and was excited about the relatively low cost of a student membership. Unfortunately, my College of Pharmacy did not have a CPNP student chapter and was closed to opening new organizations at the time. I was still able to adapt CPNP resources and use to lead a psychiatric focus group within an existing organization. I was also able to engage with CPNP National in the following ways:

  • I joined the listserv to gain perspective on clinical challenges and stay abreast of developments in the specialty and profession.
  • I valued reading the Mental Health Clinician because the articles were written by those in the field in a concise, easily digestible manner.
  • A faculty member supported my attendance at the 2011 CPNP Annual Meeting where I presented a poster highlighting my research project I completed during my clinical research summer internship at the university.
  • I received the opportunity to become a CPNP National Student Committee Member to develop my leadership skills on a national level.
  • A faculty member challenged me to apply for the CPNP Research Trainee Award using my Pharm.D. Investigations research project (a requirement for graduation from my College of Pharmacy). I was slated as a finalist and with the support of several people fine-tuned my presentation and was selected as the recipient of the award.
  • I received the CPNP Student Travel Grant to support continued meeting attendance where I was able to attend the CPNP Annual Meeting student programming. I networked with students who shared my passion for psychiatry/neurology, residents, new practitioners, and residency program directors.

During my residency training, I continued to use CPNP in the previous ways but also found other benefits that are now relevant:

  • A colleague and I authored a Mental Health Clinician manuscript. This also served to satisfy one of the requirements for residency training during my PGY-1.
  • I became a member of the newly launched Resident Community.
  • I received an opportunity to serve as a peer reviewer for the Mental Health Clinician during my PGY-2 training. This was a timely offer to develop autonomy as I previously worked with program preceptors to review two other manuscripts.
  • The organization continued to challenge my leadership skills by offering an opportunity to serve as subcommittee chair within the CPNP National Student Committee.
  • I found the BCPP exam materials helpful as a general resource through residency training as well as valuable preparation for exam certification.
  • Building a network over the past several years lead to possible career opportunities offered early during my PGY-2 training.
  • The listserv and CPNP job postings kept me aware of possible career opportunities for myself and others.
  • The Neuropsychiatric Resources for the New Practitioner was also useful as a resident to serve as a study guide throughout training.

I am definitely a new, new practitioner as I only completed residency training nearly 3 months ago. I have been continuing to use the organization as previously described. I have also joined numerous CPNP communities to gain more perspective. I plan to explore new volunteer opportunities and become a more consistent peer reviewer of the Mental Health Clinician.

My final thoughts for members is that CPNP is your organization. Maximize the resources and opportunities it offers. Especially for students and residents, now is the time to set yourself up for success as a new practitioner, and thus, impact the patients, specialty and profession you serve. Do not be shy. Volunteer, ask questions, and meet new people. The synergy of the organization, mentorship, and a strong work-ethic is a powerful combination.

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