As an annual tradition to instill leadership-minded learning early in the pharmacy students’ academic career, Phi Lambda Sigma lead new first year students through team building and leadership development activities at the University of Houston College of Pharmacy's new student orientation to over 100 first year students.
The Bird Test
This activity promotes self awareness regarding each student’s leadership style; while emphasizing to students the importance of understanding the leadership styles of those around them so that they may work cohesively throughout school and in the professional community.
First year pharmacy students take a questionnaire describing various observable supporting, controlling, direct, and indirect behaviors and are categorized as a Dove, Owl, Peacock or Eagle. Students gather with their respective bird group and PLS members facilitate conversation on the strengths and weaknesses for their bird group. These are then presented to their entire class by first year students.
The Obstacle Course
A special exercise designed to simulate challenges that pharmacy leaders may face in professional practice such as distractions, differing viewpoints, and inadequate communication methods.
Blind-folded students are led through balloon obstacles by only the voice of another classmate at the end of the pathway. Teams must overcome the physical obstacles of balloons in the path and the mental obstacle of trusting their classmate’s voice to lead them to the other side in the midst of confusion to discover that listening is as important as being a leader to accomplish goals.
The Human Knot
This exercise demonstrates how teamwork is important in pharmacy school as well as the importance of leadership in pharmacy both as a student and a professional.
To promote team building and communication, students must strategize methods together to become untangled from a 'human knot'. Team members are tested in not only their ability to communicate and overcome barriers, but also given the opportunity to become closer as a unit.
Annual President's Retreat
Since 2012, the members of PLS provide a workshop to organizational presidents to not only prepare themselves to lead their respective organizations, but also to interact on a collaborative basis with officers of other organizations to work towards furthering the profession as a whole.
The workshop features presentations on key topics needed by leaders such as time management, communication skills, and empathy. Following the presentation, officers are given scenario-based problems in a small group setting that they may encounter through their time as officers.