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Emerging Entrepreneurs: 2013 DELTA Rx Summer Interns

This summer marks the fifth year in which The DELTA Rx Institute has organized a prestigious Entrepreneurial Leadership Internship Program for pharmacy students. The program provides opportunities for students to gain experience working in a community pharmacy developing their entrepreneurial leadership skills through the completion of the program. The objectives of the Entrepreneurial Leadership Internship Program include:

1) Involve students in a program that will allow them to witness and develop entrepreneurial leadership in the community pharmacy sector.

2) Prepare student pharmacists for future entrepreneurial leadership positions within the community practice environment.

3) Provide participating community pharmacies with exposure to and opportunity for potential recruitment of emerging entrepreneurs.

The DELTA Rx Institute’s internship program was promoted through a variety of resources, including the Iowa Pharmacy Association (IPA), Drake’s Experiential Education newsletter, and the DELTA Rx newsletter and website. The program is made possible through funding by McKesson Corporation and Pharmacist Mutual Insurance Company.

The following sites hosted and mentored students during this summer’s program:

Medicap GRX Holdings hosted student intern Michael Porterfield, P3. This year’s intern had an opportunity to visit with and observe pharmacy owners and managers and learn about running an independent pharmacy by looking at inventory, expense management, working with the marketing department, participating in community events, and incorporating clinical services. The intern was encouraged to find problems and seek and report on possible solutions. He participated in a variety of projects that enhanced the learning experience and exposed him to new ideas in pharmacy. The intern was encouraged to pick projects that compliment his areas of interest in pharmacy as well as challenge their current skills and knowledge. Some of the previous interns’ projects have included areas in asthma care, developing clinical relationships with physicians, compliance, and working on marketing a new store. Michael’s primary project involved evaluating staffing hours and analyzing where costs could be cut, which was then applied to the beginning stages of opening a new pharmacy site.

 

In Michael’s words…

I would like to start off by thanking everyone at GRX Holdings/Medicap for a truly great experience. I was presented with unparalleled opportunities to explore different avenues in the career of pharmacy. I was able to see different styles of management, running a pharmacy and even pharmacy expansion. I learned a lot about managing a group of stores from a corporate perspective. My main summer project focused on a comprehensive store analysis of a couple of the growing locations in the company. I looked at everything from staffing to hours and work flow. This project really made me realize all the thought the goes

into running a business, whether it be one store or a corporation of stores. I was also able to meet with associates of the GRX stores and discuss topics facing pharmacists on a daily basis. Again I just wanted to thank everyone in the GRX office for being so welcoming and providing me with a great experience.

 

Drilling Pharmacy in Sioux City, Iowa was also selected as an internship site for its innovative practice and entrepreneurial spirit. Kirsten Elwood, P2, was the student intern at the site. The mission of Drilling Pharmacy and staff is to “provide the community we serve with the best overall pharmacy care products and services, to every customer, everyday. Through developing a common sense of urgency and attention to detail to all aspects of our work, we raise the confidence of our patients to a level high above our competitors’ capabilities. We eliminate patient concerns about dispensing accuracy, insurance billing, health and drug information, genetic drug formulations, and many issues that arise about Medicare benefits and coverage. We are measured by the actions of every owner, manager and employee and how we communicate and treat one another and our patients, to ensure that all of us feel and believe that we are part of the extended family at Drilling Pharmacy.”

 

Kirsten’s main project focused on the implementation of medication therapy management services into the pharmacy and the creation of a HIPAA policies and procedures guide for staff completing these services.

 

In Kirsten’s words…

I spent my summer break in Sioux City, Iowa, at Drilling Pharmacy. Drilling participates in the DELTA Rx Internship program, which is designed for students to thoroughly explore entrepreneurship and innovation in independent pharmacy. The internship provides each participating student with the opportunity to complete a myriad of entrepreneurial projects, see the challenges and rewards of operating an independent pharmacy today, and partake in thought-provoking discussion with pharmacist mentors.

My interest in Drilling Pharmacy was initially piqued when I saw that the pharmacy was a family-owned operation. Before brothers Bill and Don Drilling owned the business, they worked alongside their father, who purchased the pharmacy in bankruptcy decades ago and brought it back to life. Having grown up in a business-owning family myself, I have a unique appreciation for families that work together to make their career aspirations a reality. Bill and Don have done precisely that, and it has been an incredible learning experience to see how they accomplished making their pharmacy flourish in today’s market.

Over the course of my 10 weeks in Sioux City, I created the foundation for a medication therapy management program, attended local pharmacy meetings, communicated with state congressmen about challenges independent pharmacy faces as practice laws change, and updated the store HIPAA Policies and Procedures guide to remain in compliance with upcoming changes. One of the most rewarding aspects of the internship was that Bill, my mentor, gave me the freedom to work at my own pace and create projects as I saw necessary. I worked in the pharmacy to see how workflow or patient compliance could be improved, and created projects accordingly.

The DELTA Rx Program provides students with superior internship opportunities to explore their interests and passions in the pharmacy profession. I can’t say enough good things about both DELTA Rx and Drilling Pharmacy. The experiences I had over the course of my 10-week internship helped redefine me as a professional, an innovator, and a student pharmacist. I extend a hearty thank you to Drilling Pharmacy, the DELTA Rx Institute, and the other organizations that sponsored my internship.

 

Clear Lake/Clarion Pharmacy hosted summer intern Naomi Digiantonio, P3. Rockford Anderson, PharmD and Drake graduate, served as the student mentor and supervisor. This internship provided the opportunity for the student to become involved in every aspect of the business, including obtaining the contracts needed and negotiating for pricing and services. From day to day, the intern was involved with the various issues of owning a pharmacy while being able to influence customer’s health concerns, as well as helping keep pharmacy local in the communities we service. Naomi’s final project was to successfully bill Medicaid for TabSafe machines, which increase adherence in patients receiving at-home care services.

 

In Naomi’s words…

I had a unique experience at Polk City Pharmacy and Clear Lake Pharmacy exploring innovation and ownership. I learned a lot about how to manage and own an independent pharmacy. I was given freedom to explore many opportunities and ideas. This experience was unlike any other in that I was able to explore unique aspects of business and pharmacy including g compounding, marketing, at-home care services, individual packaging, and managing contracts.

My main project focused on at-home care and TabSafe services. A TabSafe machine is a medication adherence machine, which is used by patients receiving at-home care services. The TabSafe machine is helpful for patients who struggle to take their medications. I was able to successfully bill Medicaid for the TabSafe machines. I also sent marketing letters to at-home care companies in the Des Moines area to help expand TabSafe services and trained staff at Polk City Pharmacy on how to use the TabSafe device.

My internship helped me develop skills that I will use as a pharmacist in the future. This experience has encouraged me to continue to explore my interest in ownership and entrepreneurship. I would like to thank MR Pharmacy LLC and DELTA Rx for creating this opportunity for me to learn more about the role of entrepreneurship within independent pharmacy.

 

New to the DELTA Rx internship program, NuCara Management Group hosted summer intern Ben Dagraedt, P2. This diverse internship experience, based out of Nevada, IA, was directed by Vice President of Operations, Brett Barker. The intern had the opportunity to experience several areas of community pharmacy management including corporate leadership, human resources, financial oversight, marketing, durable medical equipment, sterile and nonsterile compounding, telepharmacy, and other innovative practice areas. Ben’s main project involved the implementation of an automatic refill renewal system, including staff training and trouble-shooting issues as they arose.

 

In Ben’s words…

I would like express my gratitude to everyone at NuCara for such a wonderful experience this summer. Interning at NuCara exposed me to so many experiences and opportunities I couldn’t have encountered in the classroom.

During my time with Brett, I learned how much work occurs behind the scenes as a Vice President of Operations. I was included in every aspect of the job, and I was able to

appreciate first-hand what it takes to keep a whole chain of pharmacies running smoothly. Not only did I get to observe the management of these pharmacies, but I also became involved in the acquisition of a pharmacy, the startup of a new pharmacy, and multiple pharmacy remodels. I learned about managing a pharmacy, it’s inventory, marketing, public relations, human resources, budgeting, and working as part of a team. NuCara showed me that if highly skilled individuals can work together as a team, the results can be extraordinary.

Throughout the summer, I met and networked with other pharmacists from NuCara and outside companies. It was clear that everyone was highly skilled in each aspect of pharmaceutical operations, but really had a knack for one specific area. I was also lucky enough to be a part of pharmacy innovation. I got to experience new ideas like home infusion, sterile compounding, veterinary pharmacy, telepharmacy, and a new practice model.

It was a hectic summer filled with traveling to Eastern Iowa and plane rides to North Dakota, but that didn’t stop me from feeling like I became part of the NuCara pharmacy family. It was an experience that I will always value and draw upon throughout my professional career.

 

The pharmacies in the program provide the leadership and expertise while the students provide fresh insight and assist in the development of an entrepreneurial program for the site. If you are interested in becoming a possible internship site for summer 2014, please contact the DELTA Rx Team at deltarx@drake.edu.

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