Networking: Your Greatest Membership Benefit!

As we continue to read pharmacy headlines about the woes of pharmacy and healthcare in general, it’s easy to forget about some of the great aspects of the job – and in particular being a member of a state pharmacy association. For many years after graduation, I paid my dues.  For the first few years, I was a spectator.  My dues supported the legislative efforts and costs of running an organization, and I was happy to support.  However, like a gym membership, I didn’t really see the personal benefits until I started to get involved and participated regularly. 

Over the last decade, I met some incredible people throughout the state and the country!  I found mentors who have helped me to grow as a pharmacist and a leader and a network of colleagues to celebrate the good times and lean on during the bad times, most notably during the COVID-19 pandemic. We take care of our patients, but we need to take care of each other too!

Last month, thanks to my membership and networking through WV Pharmacists Association, I had the greatest experience of my life.  I met some wonderful people from Alaska at the NASPA meeting/NCPA Conference in October, and in February, I traveled to Alaska to speak at their annual meeting.  I met some more great Alaskans – some who were West Virginians – and thanks to some really friendly Alaskan pharmacists, I was given the experience of a lifetime!

After a 45-minute snowmobile ride out to Figure Eight Lake (which was an experience in itself), I was able to check off a bucket list item and go ice fishing!  We caught three northern pike, saw multiple bald eagles, and got to spend hours in the breathtaking Alaskan wilderness! While we were fishing, we talked about family, pharmacy, and even job opportunities in Alaska! I went out that day for fish and could have landed my next job!
Top: Brandy Seignemartin, Executive Director of AKPhA, holding our biggest catch of the day!
Bottom: Myself (WV), Brandy (AK), and Tom (ID) – all connected through state associations!
There’s more to state associations than CE – it’s meeting people with shared experiences AND different experiences working to improve our personal and professional lives together. The amazing pharmacists at the Alaskan Pharmacists Association sure improved my personal and professional life with this experience, and I encourage everyone to get more involved and network on a local and national level.  Networking is the biggest member benefit; take advantage of it! You never know where it might take you, personally or professionally! – by Matt Rafa, WVPA President