Dr. Sarah E. Grady is an Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Drake University. Her clinical practice site is the psychiatric unit at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Grady received her Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Illinois in 1999. She then completed an ASHP-accredited pharmacy practice residency at the Chicago VA Healthcare System in 2000. After completing her residency, Dr. Grady obtained an academic appointment at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy, where she taught for nearly 8 years. She is currently a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist and a board certified psychiatric pharmacist. Dr. Grady greatly enjoys teaching, research, and patient care.

Why is national service important?

There are many reasons why national service is important for personal as well as professional growth. Becoming active in pharmacy organizations gives one access to networking opportunities, resources, and tools to improve one’s practice. CPNP and other pharmacy organizations allow members to stay current with medication trends and changes; it permits members to access numerous teaching resources for patients, students, residents, and other healthcare professionals; and grants members a voice in patient advocacy. Members of pharmacy organizations gain access to mentors in the field and, in return, offer mentorship to those desiring it.

Lifelong learning is paramount to our profession. Within CPNP, individuals can gain knowledge from other members as well as share their expertise with other members. Pharmacy organizations are a great source of idea exchanges. One can obtain ideas for starting and updating services in all practice settings. One can acquire ideas on how to deal with certain patient situations and navigate the often muddy interprofessional waters. One can acquire or provide advice on how to effectively and efficiently teach patients, students, residents and other healthcare professionals. By being active in pharmacy organizations, one has the opportunity to develop and to enhance his or her communication and leadership skills. These skills can positively impact any practice setting. Being active in pharmacy organizations can make one feel part of a community. Lastly, employers, especially those in the academic sector, recognize and appreciate national service.

How do I get involved with CPNP?

First, attend the Annual Meeting. While at the Annual Meeting, attend as many educational sessions and networking opportunities as possible. Make a point of introducing yourself to at least three to five new people that you do not know. Inquire about their practice site, goals, successes, and challenges. Exchange contact information with these individuals so ideas and conversations can continue at subsequent meetings. Also, consider presenting a poster or a clinical pearl at the Annual Meeting. This is another way to become active and to expand your networking reach.

Second, join a CPNP community. CPNP currently has over 10 communities, including geriatric psychopharmacotherapy, managed care pharmacy practice, neurology, patient care practice management (PCPM), patient medication education groups (PMEG), residents, residency program directors (RPD), students, substance use disorders strategies (SUDS), and teaching. When you join a community, be an active participant. Actively attend webinars and volunteer to deliver one on a topic. Take the opportunity to become a leader or co-leader of a community, if you are interested. If you choose to pursue a leadership position, remember that these skills take many years to cultivate and to develop. Thus, it may take several years for an individual starting out as an active member of a community to eventually become a leader or co-leader of a community.

Third, apply for committee service or an ad hoc task force. CPNP presently has many committees, including the abstracts and awards council, business development council, community leaders council, consumer relations committee, government affairs council, medication fact sheet editorial board, Mental Health Clinician Editorial Board, nominations council, program committee, psychopharmacology pearls editorial board, recertification editorial board, resident and new practitioner committee, review course editorial board, student committee, substance use disorders committee, and theory to practice case editorial board. When you are assigned to a committee, be an active participant. Come to conference calls prepared to contribute and ready to ask questions. After serving on the committee for a few years, take the opportunity to become a Vice-chair or Chair of a committee if you are interested.

In conclusion, organization involvement is often like anything else in life: the more one gives, the more one receives. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the Annual Meeting and working with you in the future, possibly on committees!