Almutairi takes stock of AACP Aspiring Academics inaugural class

Roby Hill
January 17, 2024

When she was one of 20 students nationwide selected to be part of the inaugural class of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Aspiring Academics program, Lama Almutairi represented more than just the Medical University of South Carolina.

The third-year pharmacy student already has a Pharm.D. from Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She also served as an ambassador for Mitacs Globalink, which connects talented students with researchers in Canada.

Multiple continents, multiple countries, multiple cultures, multiple facets of pharmacy. Lama Almutairi must be one of the most well-rounded students selected for the first cohort of the new AACP program.

The AACP launched the program in August, 2023, and it runs through the AACP Annual Meeting and Teachers’ Seminar on July 20-24, 2024.

“The program significantly enhanced my understanding of academia” Almutairi said. “Through the AACP aspiring academics program I was able to build a supportive network and acquire crucial knowledge from esteemed faculty in pharmacy education.”

Almutairi has met monthly with her mentors, whom she credits for making a big difference in her experience. The program engages a home mentor – in Almutairi’s case, MUSC faculty member Jennifer Wisniewski – and a group mentor provided by AACP. Almutairi’s is Kevin Fuji, whom she shares with three other students.

“Dr. Jennifer Wisniewski's support has played a very important role in the success of the program,” Almutairi said. “She provided guidance, valuable resources, and insightful discussions about academia that I believe will help me in becoming a successful academician. Moreover, Dr. Fuji further enriched my understanding with his perspective on navigating through academia and the pharmacist’s role within it. “

Wisniewski knew this program would be a perfect fit for Almutairi.

"Because of Lama’s background in teaching in Saudi Arabia, I knew she would be an excellent candidate for the objectives of this program," Wisniewski said. "She is already passionate about student learning and desires to learn to be an effective educator, and her experiences can only augment the goals of the program. I have immensely enjoyed working with Lama through the program."

During the fall semester, the program’s aspiring academics completed three modules.

“The modules delve into the roles, expectations, career paths, and contemporary issues within academic pharmacy,” Almutairi said. “I believe being exposed to these modules has provided me with the knowledge and skills that will allow me to be a successful academician.”

She would meet with Dr. Wisniewski to discuss the module and get her insight, then meet with Dr. Fuji and the group for their perspectives. Now that the modules are finished, she and her group have been assigned a topic that addresses an issue in pharmacy education which they will present in a poster session at the AACP Annual Meeting and Teachers’ Seminar on July 20-24, 2024.

When they have finished the program, the students will have a deeper understanding of various career paths in academic pharmacy at the same time they will have begun building a national network of peers interested in academia.

Which is why Almutairi applied in the first place. She has a wealth of experience from many different perspectives, which could make her a very effective and inspirational academic. This program will help her discover if that is where her passion lies.