Traveling to start my next chapter

Where's Zach? By Zach A. Pape, PharmD

Back in early July when summer was in full swing, I was a newly certified PGY2 with a huge transition ahead of me. I was excited about the next step of my career as a new faculty member.  However, before taking that next step, I had to make a significant change in location from my PGY2 program at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to my new employer, the Medical College of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy in Milwaukee, WI.

With just under 1,500 miles ahead of me, I knew I was going to need a plan to not only make the trip efficient but also use some of my down time to fully appreciate the accomplishments of the last couple of years. This included seeing friends and colleagues along the way and making sure to have an enjoyable time at home in Iowa with family before making the move official.

Headed for home

My two overnight stops included Orlando, FL, and Nashville, TN. Both are places that I had been numerous times before and enjoy visiting. I was also excited about catching up with friends I’m lucky to have in each of those cities, even for just a short time. With each stop, I was fortunate enough to arrive to delicious meals and cold beverages as we talked about everything we had missed in each other’s lives and the new adventures yet to come. These conversations added to my excitement about where I had been and what my new position going forward would be like.

I also was able to see some cool sites along the way. I made a brief stop in Gainesville, FL, at the recommendation of a fellow New Practitioner. I am a big college football fan, so I had to go see “The Swamp” at the University of Florida in person and Bull Gator himself. Unfortunately, traffic deterred any adventures through Atlanta, GA, but the state itself was a beautiful part of the drive. My trip also took me through the eastern part of Tennessee and Chattanooga. The scenic southern Appalachian Mountains reminded me of time spent in West Virginia during my PGY1 program.

The final leg of my trip between Nashville and home in Cedar Rapids, IA, was a perfect and sunny drive through endless fields of green and the familiar flat terrain of my younger life.

I was finally back home.

Nervous excitement

The trip home didn’t last too long, as I used the rest of the month off to gather my things, prepare for a move, and spend time relaxing with family and friends. In my new home of Milwaukee, I had a new job, new colleagues, and a whole new experience awaiting me.

Though I had been introduced to academia as a resident, I also understood that an official appointment is very different from my earlier exposure. I think back to all of the mentors I have had, starting in my own PharmD program. I still connect with each person, and they continue to be supportive in my journey. For all of my excitement about my new job, there were also definitely some nerves to go along with it. But I know that I have good people behind me, and especially good people ahead of me in my future colleagues.

I can say with certainty that it is an experience and transition I am never going to forget.