I am writing this edition of the BPS Leadership Blog as the 50th ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting in New Orleans concludes. While the growth of this meeting from its humble beginnings in 1966 with less than a 1000 2015_ellisattendees to close to 25,000 people is remarkable, what is also remarkable is how our profession has developed over these 50 years.

Activities such as the Personnel Placement Service and the Poster sessions are hallmarks of the Midyear and it is hard to believe that the first time these activities’ took place were 1971 and 1974 respectively. It seems that these events have always been part of the profession and I suppose for many of us, based upon when we started our careers, they have been. These two activities have played a critical role in launching and/or growing many careers.

1976 was the 200th Anniversary of our country and it was also a significant year for the Midyear Meeting as the first residency showcase was held. In that same year, BPS was also officially formed. Given the close relationship between residency training and BPS Board Certification I find it fitting that both the first residency showcase and establishment of BPS occurred in the same year. Although residencies existed prior to 1976, we can look back at the first showcase as formal recognition that his type of training was going to become an important part of the pharmacy landscape. With hindsight, it is now clear that there were many important and profound things taking place in pharmacy in the early to mid-1970s. Years from now, I hope that we can look back on the 2010 decade and point to the emergence of provider status in much the same way.

For me personally, my first ASHP Midyear meeting was while I was a student at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy in 1984 and I believe the Midyear was in Dallas. I recall being amazed at the size and scope of the meeting. It was also fitting for me that 1984 marked the first “Student Reception” at the Midyear. Over 30 years later at this meeting in New Orleans I had more than one conversation with fellow attendees about how impressive the students are. What is impressive is their professionalism and maturity as well as the fact that they have very distinct goals. Clearly the profession has moved from having “Pharmacy Students” to “Student Pharmacists” and I know that both our profession and our patients will benefit from that distinction.

New Orleans is also a special Midyear city for me because it was the city that hosted the 1985 meeting the year I was the ASHP Executive Resident. The excitement of the city, the record breaking attendance of 10,000 people and the privilege to be part of the ASHP staff solidified my career goal of serving the profession through association work.  I was also given a very special assignment at that meeting by my preceptor, Mary Jo Reilly and Education Director, Elizabeth Simmonetti.  I was asked to host the keynote speaker, Eric Sevareid.  Sevareid was a CBS news journalist from 1939 to 1977and was one of a group of elite war correspondents hired by pioneering CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow. Sevareid was the first to report the fall of Paris when it was captured by the Germans during World War II and while traveling into Burma during the war, his aircraft was shot down and he was rescued from behind enemy lines by a search and rescue team established for that purpose. After a long and distinguished career, he followed in Murrow’s footsteps as a commentator on the CBS Evening News for 12 years for which he was recognized with Emmy and Peabody Awards.

One of the special moments this year for me was listening to ASHP Executive Vice President Emeritus, Dr. Joseph A. Oddis narrate the opening video that chronicled the 50 years of the Midyear and to see him walk across the stage to greet current ASHP Executive Vice President, Dr. Paul Abramowitz. It is remarkable that this meeting started under Dr. Oddis’ watch in 1966 and to attend the meeting and see Dr. Oddis this year allowed me to recall some wonderful memories and reflect on both in the evolution of the profession and my own career. Congratulations to ASHP on 50 years of the Midyear Clinical Meeting!

William M. Ellis, RPh, MS
Executive Director
Board of Pharmacy Specialties