An Open Letter from the President
SMSHP has a long and rich history in southeastern Michigan, dating back over 70 years. While the people, place, and timing have changed, one thing has remained the same – we network, learn, and collaborate with one another. Our organization is made possible through the efforts of dedicated individuals with a common commitment to professional community. We have always been a volunteer organization and, as such, we rely on the selflessness of our colleagues and our generous sponsors to continue our mission.
One of the traditions that we are most proud of is our Annual Residency Showcase. This professional service event is offered to all residency candidates and programs who would like to attend, free of charge and without membership requirements. We recognize that the residency research and selection process is a very important part of an emerging pharmacist’s journey. While it is easily our largest single expenditure each year, we are grateful for the opportunity to provide this benefit to our future and current colleagues.
The COVID pandemic has required everyone to be adaptable, patient, and kind. Last year, SMSHP held our Residency Showcase virtually. It was a success, and we were heartened by the many positive compliments that we received. At the same time, we also remember some of the instructive feedback from our resident candidates - to paraphrase, “I wish I had the same opportunities others before me had.” “It has been really difficult to do this all virtually.” “It’s hard to feel like I am making an informed decision about the next year of my life.” Our (correct) singular focus on preventing COVID and improving COVID outcomes has had many indirect effects that are less tangible, but no less real.
We support our colleagues’ decisions to halt the ASHP Midyear and ACCP meetings. The number of attendees, duration, travel, and local COVID transmission rates create a much different risk calculus. SMSHP’s Residency Showcase is, realistically, a rounding error of the size of those events. While MSHP has also decided to hold their Annual Meeting virtually, the purpose of that event is different and therefore subject to a different risk-benefit assessment. For all of us, planning with an unclear future is a challenge.
As you might anticipate, this was therefore a challenging decision for SMSHP. We discussed at length over the summer and have watched the trends closely. We have awaited any guidance from state and local authorities that could help us in our determination. Ultimately, our Board decided to host our meeting in person.
We had several determining factors in our decision, and for risk-mitigation of an in-person event:
These conditions create a risk that is lower than what average individuals will experience in their personal life. The Showcase will be a safe environment. We acknowledge that select at-risk individuals may understandably choose not to participate. For those individuals, the vast majority of programs have a virtual format offering for them.
As an organization of health professionals, SMSHP recognizes that our decisions carry some responsibility in not just what occurs, but how our decisions are perceived. We want to convey to you the goal of our messaging is this: That science works. Vaccines work. Masks work. Other mitigation strategies work. This type of event can be done safely with the cooperation of everyone involved. We do not want to deprive individuals of the opportunity to participate and further their professional success.
Finally, and most importantly, this event is not about us – it is about you and your professional success.
SMSHP President, ’20-‘21
Southeastern Michigan Society of Health Systems Pharmacists. 1946-