How to Navigate ASHP Midyear

If you know you know: ASHP Midyear is a BEAST. We want to simplify this conference for you and help you navigate such a crazy experience!

How to Navigate ASHP Midyear
Photo by West Kenya Union Conference Adventist Media / Unsplash

If you know you know: ASHP Midyear is a BEAST. We want to simplify this conference for you and help you navigate such a crazy experience!

ASHP = American Society of Health System Pharmacists
timelapse photography of New York Times Square
Photo by Ferdinand Stöhr / Unsplash

What is ASHP Midyear 

ASHP Midyear is the largest Clinical Meeting and Exhibition exchange of pharmacy expertise, ideas, and innovation in the world. More than 20,000 pharmacy professionals and students from all over the globe come together for: 

  • Hundreds of educational activities 
  • Exclusive in-person career advancement opportunities 
  • Unmatched networking 
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The ASHP Midyear Meeting is consistently ranked one of the top healthcare meetings across all professions. 

Why go to ASHP Midyear 

Once you get past the costly registration fee, travel, hotel, and food costs, there are numerous benefits to attending ASHP Midyear 

  • Networking 
  • Educational activities and continuing education credits (right before license renewal, too!) 
  • Research ideas 
  • Job opportunities 
  • A fun, yet productive, business trip! 
  • Professional development 
  • Keynote speaker session
  • Presentation opportunities 
  • For students:  
    • “The Midyear Clinical Meeting is by far the most important live event for students to attend who are seriously considering a career in hospital pharmacy or seeking a residency or fellowship upon graduation. No other national meeting or event offers the same opportunities, programming, exposure, and experience.” 
  • Participate in the Clinical Skills Competition 
    • *Must be an ASHP student member and have qualified for the national level competition at a local-level competition through an eligible school of college of pharmacy 
    • Winners of local-level competition have their registration fee paid for by ASHP! 
    • Prize for winning national level: cash prize! 

Who should go/will be there 

Not an all inclusive list. SOP = School of Pharmacy.

When is ASHP Midyear?

This is a Sunday – Thursday conference typically held the first week of December.

2023 conference dates: December 2 - December 7

Where is ASHP Midyear located?

  • Anaheim, California 2023 
  • Typically follows a rotation schedule between four cities:
    • New Orleans, LA 2024 
    • Las Vegas, NV 2025 
    • Orlando, FL 2026? 
    • Anaheim, CA
  • In 2020 and 2021, the meeting was hosted virtually.

Schedule of the Conference – Know before you go!

Definitions:

Personnel Placement Services: provides an opportunity for applicants and employers to interview one another and participate in critical networking before a formal application and on-site interview.
Exhibit Program: participate in a hands-on demonstration, and learn for yourself how these companies and their products are helping to define what is important to patient care, your practice, and your career. 
Educational programming: developed to maintain and enhance the knowledge, skills, and competence of pharmacists and technicians in acute and ambulatory settings.
Residency Showcase: a large hall of booths where residency programs from all over the country can “showcase” their programs to interested candidates.

Schedule Overview 2023

Saturday 

  • Pre-meeting workshops 
  • Pharmacotherapy Specialty Review and recertification course
  • Semi-Final Round of the Clinical Skills Competition (CSC)

Sunday 

  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Personnel Placement Services (PPS)
  • Resident, student, and educational programming
  • Federal Forum and Posters
  • Final Round of the CSC 

Monday 

  • PPS
  • Opening session with Viola Davis
  • Student and Professional Posters
  • Exhibit Program
  • Residency Showcase
  • Student and educational programming 

Tuesday

  • PPS
  • Student and educational programming
  • Residency Showcase
  • Student, Professional, Fellows Posters
  • Exhibit Program
  • Students’ Night Out 

Wednesday

  • PPS
  • Education programming
  • Resident Posters
  • Spotlights on Science
  • Exhibit Program 

Thursday

  • Educational programming 
crowd of people in building lobby
Photo by Product School / Unsplash

The above photo is what the conference halls for Poster Sessions and Residency Showcases look like. I remember taking some pictures when I went to Las Vegas in 2019, but I have since deleted them! The conference halls are absolutely packed and can be inordinate to navigate.

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MY NON-NEGOTIBLE TIP: Print out the layout of each Residency Showcase session and create a map and route. Yes, like you are going on a hike in the wilderness, create a navigation route to ensure you A) do not get lost and B) stay on track to optimize your time.

How to Navigate 

We are going to break this down in easy bullets so you can quickly learn what you need to prep. Please see the drop-down boxes for what type of attendee best applies to you for more specific navigation tips! 

General prep: 

  • USE THE SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE and then go to Session Schedule & Itinerary Planner* section to view/create a full plan for yourself! *specific for each year so will not link to the page
  • It will be OVERWHELMING. Remember why you are there, check with your buddies for what they are doing, and take it day by day. 

Residency Showcases 

  • There will be multiple sessions on Monday and Tuesday. Make sure you know what programs you want to speak with and when/where their booth will be! 

Fourth Year Students (P4s)

  • ASHP Midyear is of most benefit to P4s who want to pursue a residency after graduation.
  • Most all residency programs will have a booth at Midyear. This is a great opportunity for you to directly speak with programs from OUT OF STATE or In-State programs you were unable to speak with at smaller, local showcases. 
  • Let me say that again: ASHP Midyear is for speaking with programs that you have not spoken with yet.
  • If you have already talked to the program director or current residents at a prior showcase (school residency showcase, state residency showcase, etc) then I would recommend against talking to them at Midyear. Why? You are more likely to leave a bad impression than a good one. 
  • Multiple residency program directors (RPDs) have stated that they hardly remember anyone they speak to at a large conference like ASHP Midyear. They even said candidates are more likely to leave a negative impression than a positive one with the RPD or residents at the booth. How do I know this? I interviewed over 40 RPDs as my fourth-year research project.
  • Practice your elevator speech! This is a brief 30 second introduction of who you are, what pharmacy year you are in, what you are seeking, and perhaps your current job or interests.
  • Know why you are interested in each specific program - be able to speak to this with the RPD and residents.
  • RELAX and remember this is just a conversation with another person! You are there to obtain information and learn about the program, not sell yourself as the best candidate. You can do that later in your application and interview.
  • Take notes during your conversation and take a few minutes after each program booth to write down as much as you can from your interaction. You will thank yourself later. This also gives you an opportunity to compose yourself, clear your head, and prep for the next program booth.
  • Have questions about that program prepared (or about the current resident research projects/rotations, wink wink).
  • Outside of the residency showcase tips, take advantage of all the education sessions, exhibitions, and poster sessions! If you are presenting, then we wish you good luck! Radiate your excited and energy from your research to the listeners who come up to your poster. The different educational sessions were REALLY neat to attend and contained a lot of great information. I still remember several presentations from the years I attended! Go to any and all that you spark your interest. Some even include snacks and drinks (which is always a bonus).

Third Year Students (P3s)

  • I went as a P3 because I had to present a poster for my School of Pharmacy’s Student Society of Health System Pharmacists (SSHP) chapter. I was president, and we aimed to participate in the Student Society Showcase at ASHP Midyear each year. This also came with a free registration, which was a bonus! I included some pictures from 2019 at the bottom of this article. Only three P3 students went from my school in 2019. All for poster presentations.
  • I am being brutally honest, and multiple residency program directors agree with me, speaking to the Residency Program Director (RPD) and residents as a P3 is a waste of time (I interviewed over 40 RPDs as my fourth-year research project, so I have validation behind my words!). That being said, if you are a P3 that is really on top of their residency search game, you may already be trying to rule in and out potential programs you want to apply to as a P4. If that is the case, more power to you. Go up to those programs and ask your questions. But if you are a P3 that thinks they will make a long-lasting impression on the program so they "remember" you for next year when you can apply.... think again. These programs speak with so many people at ASHP Midyear that it is much easier to leave a bad long-lasting impression than a good one.
  • You may be at Midyear as a presenter or co-presenter on a poster presentation. If that is the case, congrats! That is a great accomplishment and bullet to add to your CV. My advice for you is to crush that poster presentation, attend all the exhibits and presentations you are interested in, and enjoy your time in a new city with your fellow classmates and mentors.

First and Second Year Students (P1s and P2s)

  • If you are going to Midyear as a first or second year pharmacy student, it is usually for a poster presentation. Perhaps you collaborated with your school's SSHP chapter and are co-presenting at the Student Society Showcase. Or you collaborated on a resident's research project and are co-presenting with them. If you fit into this category, congrats! That is a great bullet to add to your CV as a young student.
  • My advice for you is to crush that poster presentation, attend all the lecture and presentations you are interested in, and enjoy your time in a new city with your fellow classmates and mentors.
  • If you are going to talk to residency or fellowship programs, I encourage you to save your money and wait. RPDs and current residents will NOT remember anything from interactions with anyone below P4 year. Trust me. They also may feel like you are limiting their time to chat with other P4 candidates who will be applying and potentially interviewing with them in the upcoming months.

Current PGY1 Residents

There are numerous reasons for PGY1 residents to be attending Midyear!

  • Poster Presentation: many RPDs encourage you to take your Medication Use Evaluation or your residency research project and present what you have at Midyear. Or perhaps you were roped into another, shorter project in the first half of residency that you are able to present. This is great experience and professional development during your residency. Although it may seem like a pain in the butt or another task to check off the "residency requirement list," tackle it head on and be proud of your work!
  • PGY2 Search: this is for those of you that are interested in a second year of residency. You likely attended Midyear the previous year and are familiar with the process, researching programs, speaking with programs, and obviously the application process. If you are not familiar with the Residency Showcase, please see the "Fourth Year Students (P4s)" section above. This section contains great tips on how to start your navigation plan and optimize your time. There are some residency programs that will ask you to interview later after your discussion on site at Midyear. This might be later that same day or later in the week. I am not an expert on this, but I have had colleagues who experienced this in the past. Be prepared for an interview!
  • Your Current Program Requires It: we discussed above that your program may require you to attend with a poster presentation, but your program also may require you to attend Midyear because your residency program has a booth at the Residency Showcase. This means almost zero stress for you! The biggest task is dressing in business clothes, standing on your feet for 2 hours, and answering questions from interested applicants. You will be discussing specifics of your residency program and your experience with rotations, preceptors, work load, responsibilities, etc. Try not to be too negative if you are currently really stressed and tired from your residency, but also be "real" with the students! Have a good pro/con list about your current residency experience to share with students who come up to your booth.

Students Interested in Fellowship

  • This is a great time to network with current fellows! Make sure to reach out to them first (email, LinkedIn, etc...) and set up some time for an in-person chat.
  • Many fellowship programs like MCPHS will do in-person interviews at Midyear for their final rounds. This can vary from year to year and program to program.
  • There are often informational sessions held at Midyear by fellowship leadership teams that students can attend for more information (and networking, again).
  • Programs like the RPIF will have large networking sessions specifically for their top candidates at Midyear (must be invited). However, they'll occasionally let non-candidate students attend as well!
  • Many company-sponsored events at Midyear will come with free food and drink tickets, so take advantage of the free meal and meet some new people!

Virtual Attendees (if this happens in the future again..)

I attended virtual Midyear 2020 as a P4 student and also in 2021 as a PGY1 resident. Let me tell you, I was NOT happy either year. Especially PGY1 year, because pretty much all my expenses would have been paid for!

Regardless, we have to make the most of the situations we are in. I could not control COVID-19 or the decision to make Midyear virtual, so why worry about it and complain?

Tips to Navigate a Virtual Midyear Meeting

  • The virtual platform for ASHP Midyear is fairly easy to use. I would recommend you jump on the platform on Saturday or Sunday to play around a bit and familiarize yourself with the layout. You will want to be quick at navigating the site when it is time for Poster Presentations and Residency Showcases.
  • ASHP also organizes games, quizzes, and leaderboards during the virtual conference to help engage participants. It may seem silly, but it is a lot of fun!
  • Use the Schedule to organize your own agenda. Look at what programs interest you and jot down what times the live presentations are. One positive aspect of the virtual meeting is that most of the lectures/presentations are recorded, and you can view them later at your own pace.
  • Set up your video-background in a professional manner. Whether talking to a residency program or a virtual hangout with your School of Pharmacy alumni, make sure the room in which you are video-chatting in is quite, clean, free of distraction, and well-lit.
  • Find a comfortable chair. You will be sitting in it for a loooooong time!
  • For the lectures/presentations, print out the accompanying handout and take notes during the programs. This will help keep you awake and engaged.
  • For talking with Residency Programs, first make sure you enter the CORRECT program booth. I accidentally entered the incorrect "HCA" booth and embarrassed myself. So don't do that.
  • When you enter a program's virtual booth, they will often finish answering whatever question was previously asked, and then they will address any new people in the room. They will ask you your name, year in school, and what school you currently attend. It is a short and sweet introduction. While in the room, be patient and wait your turn to speak. Be cognizant of what questions are being asked. DO NOT ask a question that was already asked. You would be surprised how many students did that in all the virtual showcases I attended.
  • Take notes on a separate word or excel document while the residents/RPD is speaking. I would write down everything I could, down to the pets/children each person had. I did this to personalize my follow-up emails after the conference. A personal touch can go a long way and help them remember you. I was also able to use this information (as well as other facts I wrote down such as each resident's research project, previous job, ambitions, etc.) to use in my interview later that winter.
  • Use your time well. You can easily lose track of how much time you spend in a booth. This will limit how many booths you can visit and you may miss an opportunity to speak with and ask clarifying questions with all of the programs you are interested in pursing.
  • Take breaks! Don't force yourself to sit on the Midyear platform from dawn to dusk. Get up, move around, go for a walk, clear your mind, and come back with a renewed energy.
yellow and black road sign
Photo by Breana Panaguiton / Unsplash

What to Avoid 

  • Being unprepared! That is why we wrote this article for you! You are doing yourself a disservice by having the "I'll figure it out when I get there" mentality. You may be great at "winging it," but once you are immersed in a crowd of like-minded students and professionals who have a confident stance and well-thought-out plan, you will quickly feel under-prepared and anxious.
  • Keeping to yourself. Network, my friends! You never know who you will meet. Whether you exchange business cards, social media profiles, phone numbers, or emails, increasing your professional network is unmatched. Pharmacy is a small world, and you would be surprised who you run into in the future!
  • Partying.... TOO much. I cannot speak from personal experience, but many people like to "live it up" after hours in a new city. Be cognizant of your responsibilities the following day. You don't want to ruin your reputation or leave a negative impression with a program. You spent a lot of money to be at a professional conference: keep the purpose of the week in mind.
  • Staying OFF social media platforms. Social media is king of connection these days (and I hate to admit it). ASHP uses social media to help share updates on the conference, and will even repost some of the media they are tagged in online. This can help expand your own reach, grow your network, and become discovered by others.

Closing Remarks

Don't forget to have fun during ASHP Midyear. The energy is high and everyone is excited to explore a new city. Cherish the time you have - I wish I could have experienced more than my one in-person year of Midyear! Below I have included some of the pictures still in my camera roll from my time in Las Vegas during ASHP Midyear 2019.

If you have other navigation tips, your own experiences to share, or questions, please comment down below! We will respond within 24 hours and are happy to help and listen!

2019 ASHP Midyear Las Vegas Student Society Showcase
2019 ASHP Midyear Las Vegas inside the conference hall.
2019 ASHP Midyear Las Vegas on the main strip after running 3.1 miles for fun.
2019 City of Las Vegas on the main strip.