The Utah Experience

By: Kelsea Gallegos

The University of Utah School on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies (the Utah School) was established in 1941. This program was a multi-disciplinary program that focused on increasing awareness of health and social problems of alcoholism and drug dependencies. The Pharmacy Section was created in 1983, and after 32 years of successfully helping thousands of individuals, the Utah School came to an end. But the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) knew the importance of carrying the message, and in 2015, the program transformed into what is now known as the APhA Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies. I had the esteem honor of attending not only the last official year of the Utah School, but also the inaugural and second year of the APhA Institute. Even though I attended the same meeting three years in a row, each experience was completely different and even more wonderful.


Kelsea Gallegos with members of the APhA-ASP National Executive Committee. Photo courtesy Kelsea Gallegos.

As student pharmacists we develop a certain idea of what an ideal professional meeting should look like. It would consist of activities revolving around networking, professional development, and education. The APhA Institute has all of that and so much more. The 5 days you spend in Salt Lake City will change not only how you view addiction, but it will also completely change your outlook on life. The APhA Institute creates an emotional component and bond to the other attendees that give this meeting a caliber of its own. Attendees at this meeting are pharmacists, student pharmacists, faculty, and pharmacy technicians. Some are in recovery, battling addiction themselves, or have loved ones with this disease. Some are leaders in Generation Rx, passionate about fighting the misuse and abuse of prescription drug abuse, or simply want to learn more. No matter how you look at it, this meeting has something for everyone. I know that for myself, it was a chance to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and see firsthand the program that has improved the life of so many including loved ones of my own.

I was a first-year student pharmacist when I first heard about this meeting through a student who had attended previously and I knew immediately that I wanted, that I needed, to be in Salt Lake City the next June. Even though I was inspired to go by others, my experience was different than that of the students who presented to my class, just as your experience will be unique from any picture I can paint for you. Any way you look at it, you will not regret attending the APhA Institute and creating your very own Utah Experience.

Screen shot 2016-06-25 at 6.12.12 PMKelsea Gallegos is theĀ current American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists National President. As APhA-ASP National President, she actively represents the voice of student pharmacist members and new practitioners from across the country. Originally from Belen, New Mexico, a small rural town, she is now a final-year student pharmacist at the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She is a pharmacist intern at Walgreens and upon graduation, she plans to complete a pharmacy residency program.

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