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Sarah Grady, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP, Stacy Miller PharmD, BCPS, BCPP and Jolene Bostwick, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP

Overview of the CPNP Student Committee: Recruiting and serving CPNP student members

The CPNP Student Committee works to serve our student members. This article highlights some of the efforts of this committee to ensure student members are aware of the support and resources available to get involved.

Benefits of a CPNP Student Chapter

One specific way to help students get the most out of CPNP membership is to encourage them to start or to become actively involved in a CPNP student chapter. Forming a  chapter allows a group of interested students and their faculty advisor to work together in order to achieve the objectives outlined by CPNP, which include providing education, advancing research, disseminating information, and advocating for our members and patients.

Students may work together with their faculty advisor to provide educational events through off-campus community service and on-campus activities. Most student chapters complete off–campus community service projects through their respective local National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) affiliates. On-campus activities vary in scope and depend upon the size of the respective college or university. Some CPNP student chapters offer an on-campus movie night in which psychiatric films are viewed and a discussion on mental illness facilitated by the CPNP student chapter faculty advisor follows the movie.

Student chapters may also collaborate on research initiatives by working with their faculty advisor or another pharmacist mentor to publish review articles, and research in The Mental Health Clinician (MHC). Some chapters have completed movie reviews for CPNP’s e-newsletter, CPNP Perspective, and many student chapters have presented posters at previous CPNP Annual Meetings. One chapter also developed a paper from their poster and submitted it to the MHC for possible publication. Thus, student chapters provide opportunities for students to become involved with research early in their careers, which serves to benefit our patients, our profession, and other healthcare professionals.

Student chapters additionally promote leadership development, another skill that is necessary and vital to the success of an individual in any pharmacy setting. According to the CPNP student chapter bylaws, each chapter must elect a president, vice-president/president-elect, secretary, and treasurer, and as stated previously, each chapter must complete community service activities where the students interact with individuals having mental illness. Each event involves extensive planning and preparation by the student chapter members and serves as a tremendous learning experience.

Available Resources for Starting a Student Chapter

Students who are interested in starting a CPNP chapter at their institution will find many resources for support from the CPNP National Office and the Student Committee. From the main CPNP website (cpnp.org), simply click on “Member Center,” then “Student Chapters” to access all of the information needed to start a student chapter. This page contains a link to download the guideline manual, as well as a checklist of actions needed to start a chapter. The manual provides information on identifying a chapter advisor, obtaining liability insurance and non-profit status for the chapter and planning chapter activities. Additionally, the manual includes all forms necessary for applying for chapter membership and maintaining an established chapter. The Student Chapter site also provides contact information for all established chapters to facilitate communication between groups.

In addition to accessing the CPNP Student Chapters site, students may also reach out to Student Committee leadership and CPNP staff. The current chair of the Student Committee, Jolene Bostwick and Vanessa Wasser, from the CPNP National Office are available to assist current and potential student chapters.

Supporting Students Beyond Student Chapters

In addition to supporting existing student chapters and those in the process of formation, the Student Committee supports students through various additional initiatives, including:

  1. Developing student-focused programming at the annual meeting
  2. Offering a student registration grant program to attend the annual meeting thanks to CPNP Foundation funding
  3. Sharing resources for students interested in partnering with advocacy organizations
  4. Promoting publishing opportunities for students
  5. Providing educational resources at the CPNP Annual Meeting and via CPNP self-study. These materials may serve as a supplement to what students are already learning about psychiatric medications in the classroom.

Conclusion

CPNP has made much progress in the development of CPNP student chapters, and will continue to make gains in this very important area over the next few years. Further, the CPNP Student Committee developed a three year plan to enhance student recruitment. One part of this proposal includes an increased focus on student chapters. The existence of student chapters at schools of pharmacy is an opportunity to expand student membership because it shifts the responsibility of recruitment away from CPNP and towards student chapter founders and faculty advisors. Currently, CPNP has thirteen student chapters. This number will continue to grow as CPNP increases its focus on the creation of new chapters using two avenues: a webinar “crash course” on student chapter formation and follow-up with student annual meeting attendees regarding interest in starting a chapter. We look forward to hearing from you as you consider this opportunity to get involved and have a positive impact on individuals living with psychiatric and neurological illnesses – whether within a student chapter or as an individual student.

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25 Years!