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Determining Goals and Structure

The following questions may be helpful for developing goals when launching a student society of health-system pharmacy for the first time. This is not a comprehensive list of every single question, rather a starting list to get yourself and the student society thinking about what the group needs to be successful.

  • How will students at the school benefit from active participation in the student society of health-system pharmacy?
  • How will the student society promote membership to current pharmacy students (P1, P2, P3)? To pre-pharmacy students? To final year (P4) pharmacy students?
  • How will student society educational programming and other activities differ from that offered by other student organizations?
  • How will the student society encourage student participation in the state/local society and the ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum?
  • How will the school administration and faculty support the formation of a student society?
  • How will a faculty advisor be identified to work with the students?
  • What roles will the state society leadership have in the student society's development and activities?
  • What requirements must be fulfilled for the school to recognize the student society as an active campus organization?

Guide to Writing Governing Documents

The following template can help the student society develop its governing documents. Each student society will need to make its own modifications to this template document. It may be wise for the student society leaders to appoint a special committee to develop a draft of the student society's governing documents. The faculty advisor and a state society representative should be involved in this process. The draft can serve as a “working document” for the society’s officers and membership in developing a final version.

Keep in mind that the governing documents provide detail on how the society should operate. They should provide flexibility for future growth, but detail some specific operations and procedures. Future officers and members of the student society will use these documents, so the documents should be written in a manner that makes them easy to understand and interpret.

Please note that the governing document templates are written under the assumption that the student society is an affiliate of the state society of health-system pharmacists. Governing documents should also incorporate appropriate references to college/university policies.

Note: Remember to forward a final copy of your governing documents to the Director of the ASHP Pharmacy Student Forum.

SSHP Meetings

  • The student society’s officers and members should meet periodically for business activities, to hear speakers, to plan presentations, or for social interaction. The type and frequency of meetings should be consistent with the needs of the student society and its members.
  • Organizations generally conduct two types of meetings: business meetings for the officers and general meetings for the entire membership.

Officer Business Meetings — should be conducted by the officers to make decisions and policy concerning the operation of the student society. The meeting is usually chaired by the president and attended by the other officers (i.e., executive committee) and the faculty advisor. The society secretary is responsible for keeping accurate minutes of each business meeting to reflect the decisions of the executive committee.

A typical agenda for the business meeting might include:

  1. Call to Order
  2. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting
  3. Report of Officers Activities/Responsibilities
  4. Report of Committees (by the chairperson or officer assigned as ex-officio member)
  5. Old Business
  6. New Business
  7. Discussion/Brainstorming
  8. Next Meeting Date
  9. Adjournment

General Membership Meetings — may be conducted every other week, monthly, or every other month for all student society members. This meeting provides the officers an opportunity to make announcements and reports to the members and host a program (e.g., speaker). It also ensures that the student members have adequate opportunities to participate in decision-making and generation of ideas. A typical agenda for the general membership meeting might include:

  1. Call to Order
  2. Announcements
  3. Old Business
  4. New Business
  5. Program (i.e., a speaker)
  6. Questions and Answers
  7. Adjournment (and refreshments)

The student society may hold general membership meetings in the evening or during the common hour, when time is allotted during the school day to allow for organization activities. Consider scheduling meetings for the semester well in advance. Check the student activity calendar to avoid conflicting with the meeting of another organization. Publicize the meeting in the student society's newsletter, on bulletin boards, classroom chalkboards, and have it announced to the classes one or two days before the event.


The student society will need to generate income and pay expenses to function and prosper. Student societies will generally receive some type of financial support from the state society. Although not required, the state society may also contribute directly to the student society's overall operating budget to provide support for student society programs and activities. As a return for this investment, the state society anticipates a high membership retention rate of student society members as state society members after graduation.

Financial Operations — dues revenue may be the principal source of income for the student society. If the student society is affiliated with the state society, both organizations should agree on a level of student dues. Once the student society collects the student dues, the student society can keep the entire dues or remit a portion of the dues to the state society, based on the agreement made between the organizations. The student society needs to derive income from sources other than dues and state society contributions to help support its financial operation.

The student society should develop an income and expense budget for the academic year. If affiliated with the state society, the student society may consider developing the budget in conjunction with the state society. The treasurer of the student society should regularly monitor the student society's income and expense to insure that these remain within budget. Following are some potential sources of income and expense for the student society:


  • Dues
  • Fundraisers (e.g., book sales, raffles, auctions)
  • State society contributions, rebates, grants
  • School/college of pharmacy contributions
  • Alumni donations
  • Other revenues


  • Administrative (printing, postage)
  • Meeting travel
  • Remittance of student dues to state society
  • Speakers (for programs)
  • Committee programs and operations
  • Programs and activities materials
  • Officers’ expenses
  • Refreshments at meetings

The state society may need to review the tax implications of its contributions to the student society, as well as investigate whether the student society needs to file its own annual income tax report. The student society may wish to obtain “nonprofit” status; college or university officials may be helpful in this regard. Many schools require an annual “audit” of each student organization’s financial records. Consult with the school’s financial officer to develop an appropriate accounting system.

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