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Kevin Bozymski, PharmD, BCPS
PGY2 Psychiatric Pharmacy Resident
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System

One could argue that neuropsychiatry is among those practice areas requiring the most individualized pharmacologic care, as primary literature and clinical guidelines still lack ability, in many ways, to clearly discern between medication options. This “gray area” of medicine is what drew my attention as a pharmacy student, as I saw these gaps as opportunities to embrace the oath I took as a pharmacist and to advocate for changes in mental health care.

I was first introduced to the world of CPNP during my fourth year of pharmacy school through a six-month trial membership at the encouragement of my APPE preceptor Elayne Ansara, PharmD, BCPP, BCPS; however, this was only the beginning of my journey with CPNP. I received support from Laura Ruekert, PharmD, BCPP, CGP to gain a student travel grant to and present research at the 2015 CPNP Annual Meeting in Tampa, Florida. Despite a busy PGY1 pharmacy practice residency year, I found guidance from Carol Ott, PharmD, BCPP to present again at last year’s meeting in Colorado Springs. Now, I am planning once more to attend the meeting in Phoenix with the helping hands of two others: Ericka Crouse, PharmD, BCPP, CGP, FASCP, FASHP and Sandra Mullen, PharmD, BCPP. This list does not include countless other psychiatric pharmacists and PGY2 psychiatric pharmacy residents who have been there for me, and I share it to illustrate a sentiment integral to CPNP as an organization: community.

Community is a primary reason I continually make attendance at the CPNP Annual Meeting a priority. While I knew that a career in psychiatric pharmacy was for me, I did not know in which direction (or to what destination) I would channel this passion for the benefit of my patients. This meeting is the perfect forum at which to explore those questions, alongside those at the same stage of learning and those that have been at the stage before you. Here are three, quick selling points if you are a student/resident/fellow CPNP member on the fence about attending the CPNP Annual Meeting:

Student and Resident Track Programming. While you may have a deep clinical interest in psychiatry, it is sometimes difficult to envision the many steps to become a psychiatric pharmacy specialist. Roundtables are an integral part of both the student and resident programming tracks. Whether it be about securing residencies from current residents, establishing a professional practice from new practitioners, or hearing about subspecialties in this clinical area, these engaging discussions will open your eyes to future opportunities. Residents also have a session in which they can learn firsthand from Board of Pharmacy Specialties representatives about taking the BCPP (board certified psychiatric pharmacist) exam and maintaining this credential through CPNP resources. Outside of these programming tracks, you are also welcome to attend any number of educational sessions from psychiatric pharmacists, psychiatrists, and neurologists (with the added bonus of continuing education hours if you are a resident or fellow!).

Networking. As an organization, CPNP makes it a priority to make you feel at home in the national psychiatric pharmacy community. At CPNP Annual Meetings, students, residents, and fellows are given plenty of time for “community meetings” and mentoring. You can meet individuals who will be your future colleagues in neuropsychiatric pharmacy (or in my case, two PGY1 pharmacy practice co-residents!) or perhaps even your future boss. You also have the option to be paired with an active practitioner in your subspecialty area of interest, allowing one-on-one mentorship time that simply cannot be beat. Beyond these scheduled times, however, the CPNP Annual Meeting is flexible enough to allow for impromptu social gatherings; some of my favorite memories from last year’s meeting were catching up with 2015 meeting attendees at restaurants, bowling alleys, or even conference center hallways.

Self-Development. CPNP values the professional and personal growth of its individual members, something that becomes more evident at the Annual Meeting. Students, residents, and fellows are welcome to submit poster presentations, even for research that is still a “work in progress.” Having presented at other national meetings before, I can speak to the genuine excitement between poster presenters and attendees: conversations do not occur through assigned evaluation, but rather through a mutual appreciation of and motivation to advance psychiatric pharmacy practices. CPNP also partners with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to bring individuals who can speak to their personal successes and struggles with mental health diagnoses, heightening your drive to better patient care.

Even if you are not yet set on a specific future in neuropsychiatry, attendance at CPNP 2017 will more than return on your investment. Be sure to complete your meeting registration by March 23rd to obtain discounted rates and get the most out of the experience. Attend sessions tailored to the stage in your career (e.g., student or resident programming) and meet your future colleagues. I look forward to meeting you at the CPNP Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, from April 23-26, 2017!

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