April 2018 OPA Extern Profile: Austin Hilverding
Pharmacy School: Ohio Northern University
Undergraduate degree/institution: N/A
Rotation Month at OPA: April 2018
How did you get interested in the profession of pharmacy?
For many years, I knew I had an interest in a profession within the healthcare sector. Many of my extended family members struggled with chronic diseases, and I always wanted to help but never knew how. I thought a career in medicine would be the perfect solution. In addition, I was constantly seeking opportunities to learn throughout grade school and into my teenage years, even beyond what was provided to me in school. Healthcare professionals are often considered “lifelong learners” as they must stay up to date with the most current literature and best practices. I felt that a healthcare career would provide a balanced environment where I could continue to learn while also serving patients and guiding them to a state of wellbeing. I shadowed a pharmacist in both the hospital and community retail settings while I was in high school, and I guess, as they say, “the rest is history.” I now look forward to graduation and my career as a pharmacist.
Why did you choose OPA as a rotation site?
I developed my interest in association management through my involvement with the ONU student chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association where I served as legislative chair. I became passionate about advocating for the profession and for the patients whom we serve. I knew a rotation at OPA would encourage further opportunity to discuss relevant pharmacy issues with legislators while also providing many new experiences in lobbying, writing and research, and committee hearings. Furthermore, I chose OPA as a rotation site because of the opportunities it offers for personal and professional growth. I hope to become more involved in state and national organizations such as OPA after graduation, and the opportunities provided to me as a rotation student will be invaluable in that pursuit. As a soon-to-be pharmacist and an aspiring pharmacy owner, I could not be more satisfied with the experiences afforded to me as an OPA APPE rotation student.
What was the most significant or surprising experience at OPA?
This is a difficult question for me, as I would classify so many of my experiences at OPA as “significant.” I really enjoyed networking with pharmacists form across the state, seeing some of the many hours of hard work that go into planning the OPA Annual Conference, and attending the NCPA Congressional Summit in Washington, D.C. However, I would say the most significant/surprising experience for me personally this month was attending committee meetings at the Statehouse and meeting with my legislators to find out that they are beginning to understand the issues pharmacists have been preaching for years. I had the opportunity to attend a Joint Medicaid Oversight Committee (JMOC) meeting where a state legislator used his hands to depict spread pricing by the PBMs. I spoke directly with legislators who stated their disgust and frustration with how PBMs have benefited from a non-transparent marketplace while patients, their constituents, suffered. I also met directly with members of the press who have begun writing about these issues. It is clear to me that word is spreading as a direct result of OPA’s dedicated staff, and I found my most rewarding experience to be the visualization of this change in perception.
Why I think it’s important to maintain my OPA membership after graduation.
OPA provides so many services to pharmacists that make the membership fee a worthwhile expense. Perhaps the biggest reason to become a member is to stay involved in professional advocacy. OPA advocates on behalf of the profession, and represents all of its members. The Newsline provides bi-weekly updates on legislative and professional topics, and is another great membership benefit. Continuing education programs, opportunity to impact the profession, and networking opportunities are just a few more of the benefits for me after graduation. Specifically, I look forward to participating in the New Practitioner eXperience (NPX), which offers many perks such as a quarterly newsletter, opportunities for journal publication, and a mentorship program for those in practice for seven years or less.
What other pharmacy associations/organizations do you belong to?
American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)
Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, Inc.
Rho Chi Society
- Reading, mostly nonfiction – lately, I’ve been interested in books about individual growth and personal finance
- Wedding planning for my upcoming wedding in June 2018