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A Managed Care Internship: What does my future hold?

Written by Anthony Pudlo
Drake University

Des Moines, IA

Entrepreneurial leadership can be found throughout the pharmacy profession, including practices outside of community pharmacy. The column below was written by Anthony Pudlo, a 2007 PharmD candidate at Drake University. It details his experience in a non-traditional pharmacy services setting. He describes the pursuit of an opportunity; the risk he took in following a passion rather than a traditional route to pharmacy practice. Anthony’s experience is a story written to inspire other future pharmacists to pursue interests and learn more about our profession, which will provide background for future innovation and provide opportunities for change.

As I reflect upon my time with Walgreen’s Health Services (WHS), I cannot imagine a better experience to prepare me for the future of pharmacy practice. An internship, regardless of its focus, provides student pharmacists insight into a specific practice of pharmacy as well as insight into their skills as a future professional. My unique internship offered me a first hand glimpse into the practice of managed care pharmacy—something few student pharmacists have the ability to even visualize. Little did I know by seizing this opportunity that I would uncover some of my future goals and aspirations of becoming a pharmacist.

Throughout the internship my preceptors provided feedback on my progress; and from these discussions, my time at WHS proved to be most rewarding. The biggest benefit of this internship was not in the completion of my numerous projects, but more so in the process of accomplishing this feat. The feedback I received provided guidance that could carry over beyond the 10-week internship. My preceptors and I openly discussed such topics as communication, work habits, and presentation skills. To many people these topic discussions would make them feel uncomfortable, and at first, that is how I felt. I was not accustomed to constructive criticism in such a formal atmosphere and from someone I had just started working with. Over the summer I came to realize these meetings were purely discussions that would benefit my development as a professional. With open lines of communication, my preceptors and I were able to discover some of my true strengths and weaknesses.

This internship also impacted my view of the purpose of managed care organizations. In my previous work as a community pharmacy intern, I observed the operations of managed care organizations as a barrier to effective patient care. However, prior authorization requirements and formularies are two processes I now appreciate as a way of maximizing the value of healthcare dollars. I also became more familiar with the political and social issues affecting the managed care industry such as transparency of managed care operations. Through my experience with WHS, I feel I can help play a vital role in educating and expanding the awareness of managed care pharmacy. I can now educate others and serve as a mentor to other student pharmacists and take what I learned into my clinical rotations and into pharmacy practice.

Throughout my years in pharmacy school, I have always enjoyed the opportunity to work with fellow classmates and professors. From active involvement in professional organizations to an in- depth conversation regarding pharmacy practice with a professor, communication among all members of a college community is essential. Development of these relationships with my peers and mentors influenced my decision to pursue an internship. This experience has only reinforced my decision to stay active within the college of pharmacy and professional organizations. I have experienced the true benefits of active involvement during pharmacy school, and therefore I strongly encourage all student pharmacists to join a professional organization and become active members within the college. Professional organizations and relationships provide students a way to develop personally, professionally and advance their career as a future pharmacist.

Working as a Managed Care Summer Intern confirmed to me that pharmacy is a life-long learning profession. I am overwhelmed by the internship experience and I am excited to be looking ahead to my future. Even with this internship, I cannot say if managed care pharmacy will be in my future, and I still have much to experience within the profession. Whatever direction I choose, I know I have laid the foundation for a fulfilling career of serving the needs of others. I know I will be able to take risks, meet new challenges, and, most importantly, deliver. As for now, I can only dream and concentrate on the day at hand, working towards my goals and aspirations of becoming a pharmacist.