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A Managed Care Internship: What do you do?

Written by Anthony Pudlo
Drake University
Des Moines, Iowa

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.

The Walgreen’s Health Services (WHS) managed care internship was unlike anything I had previously experienced. This summer internship program compiled all my years of knowledge and service to my university, profession, and community into a ten-week evaluation of my strengths and opportunities for growth. My preceptors advised me of two very important tips for success at WHS on my first day. They told me that interning at WHS can be as rewarding as you make it. They also suggested that this experience could quickly become overwhelming and stressful if proper time management is not utilized. I took this advice to heart and prepared for an unforgettable experience.

As I now look back at the internship, I can see it was a three-phase process of personal and professional development. The first phase formed an introduction to WHS and managed care. Within the first two weeks, I met and worked with two other managed care interns. We reviewed basic managed care principles through an outlined worksheet and conducted interviews with pharmacists across the company. We were held responsible for our learning about WHS and the typical day of any of the managed care pharmacists whether working within formulary services, medication therapy services, trade relations, and many other departments. This first phase was also a time to set my personal baseline for performance on presentation and time management skills as each intern gave a current pharmacy topic presentation and its relevance to managed care.

The second phase of the internship brought a high influx of projects to be completed, yet time was still allowed to get to know the pharmacists that worked at WHS. Through the guidance of preceptors and residents, I found myself conducting the normal duties of a managed care pharmacist. The duties were numerous and unpredictable including creating a medication use evaluation (MUE) for Xopenex® (levalbuterol), revising the current prior authorization program for Wellbutrin® SR/XL (bupropion) to make it a step-care program, and developing a presentation on the value of face-to-face communication of a pharmacist. In addition to these projects, I spent time preparing for a final presentation on a topic of my choice and a journal club which would conclude the internship. We also had opportunities to interact with preceptors outside of the workplace when we spent an evening bowling and attended a Chicago Cubs game.

The final phase of the internship brought the principles of managed care together through active dialogue with WHS pharmacists and the Pharmacy and Therapeutics (P&T) committee. In my final presentation I gave my thoughts on Medicare and Medication Therapy Management (MTM) to the WHS pharmacy team. I took part in a discussion about the purpose of clinical practice guidelines and reviewed the guidelines for such disease states as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and asthma with the WHS pharmacy residents. As a student pharmacist and future professional, my confidence, poise, and focus improved and matured as I presented my work over those ten weeks to the P&T committee, composed of physicians and pharmacists.

My ten weeks at WHS gave me knowledge and skills that could not be acquired through standard coursework. There is no substitution for the experience an internship can provide. Through the network of professional organizations, I was able to learn of and take on this internship to expand my knowledge about managed care pharmacy and its impact on the profession as a whole. My time at WHS demonstrated to me that I can complete any project through organization, time management, and understanding of the task at hand. Through my education at Drake and this internship experience, I believe I have been given the tools to accept and conquer any future challenge confronting me.