Promoting continuity among leaders of an active student organization

22 Jan 2019 12:06 PM | Anonymous

By: Emily Stekl and Jessica Aviles, PharmD Candidates 2019

While the core of a student pharmacist’s education is didactic coursework and experiential learning, another critical component of a PharmD candidate’s experience is engagement in professional pharmacy organizations and student groups, specifically in the capacity of a leader. The practice in advocacy, decision-making, event planning, and management afforded by being a leader is invaluable to a budding pharmacist and future leader in the profession.

There is little doubt that effectively leading a student pharmacist organization demands a significant amount of time and energy, and student leaders must strike a balance between completing coursework and fulfilling the responsibilities of the organization. The greatest asset to a student in navigating this balance is the organization’s prior executive board. Ideally, a leader of a student organization would have years of experience as a member first and would have the opportunity to learn directly from other executive boards how to best organize events, draft budget proposals, communicate with contacts, and maintain his or her academic standing, and then also have ideas about how to improve upon what has been done before. In many circumstances, and especially in an accelerated program, this level of continuity is absent. In reality, many students are not afforded the opportunity to follow before they are asked to lead. The end result is that students appointed to leadership roles must often generate policies and procedures from scratch; they must guess at the budget they will require and the events they must organize, and they must spend significant amounts of time seeking resources to be able to fulfill their responsibilities as leaders.

The creation of a Stewardship Portfolio is a way to rectify this deficit in continuity. The Stewardship Portfolio is a collection of documents and resources that serves as a bridge between one executive board and another. Its purpose is to serve as a steward for the organization in the absence of a corporeal executive board and in the absence of students’ previous experience participating in the organization’s events and tasks.

The exact contents of an organization’s Stewardship Portfolio will vary depending on the nature of the organization, but there should be components that are relevant to all organizations:

The organization’s mission statement, readily available to remind board members of the values they have been elected to uphold.

An inventory of positions and responsibilities, serving as a guide for elected officials to reference whenever they might need.

A folder including all budget proposals, both approved and rejected, reallocation requests, a list of vendors, and invoices, making this information accessible for future boards’ use in budget planning and funds allocation.

A calendar delineating important dates including relevant conferences, meetings, and previous deadlines for applications and budget proposals.

A folder for each specific event that contains a description of the event, a list of contacts relevant to the event, any advertising materials used for promotion.

The Stewardship Portfolio should serve as an ever-evolving body of work, and its value and utility are not limited to the guidance it provides new leaders; rather, it allows student leaders the opportunity to practice reflection and continuous quality improvement. The chief aim of the Stewardship Portfolio is certainly to promote continuity, but its use transcends streamlining the transition from one executive board to another; the very act of generating and preserving the Stewardship Portfolio builds skills that the student leaders will apply to every facet of their professional career, and it is for this reason that its implementation is recommended in all willing organizations.

New Hampshire Society of Health System Pharmacists

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