Seven DELTA RX interns had the opportunity to complete an entrepreneurial-oriented experience during the summer of 2021. With this being the second summer that the pandemic impacted community pharmacies across the country, our interns had the opportunity to experience the ever changing environment of community pharmacy in the midst of a global pandemic. The mission of the DELTA Rx internship program is to allow pharmacy students to participate in activities that revolve around innovation and entrepreneurship to prepare them for their future careers. Learn more about their personalized experiences and how it impacted them:
Eagle Grove Pharmacy (EGP), located in rural Iowa, serves as the community pharmacy and an accessible health care hub. They value their patients as they would family and greet everyone by their first name. The pharmacists and technicians go out of their way to help address patient’s insurance challenges, bubble pack, and synchronize medications for patients to improve adherence. Non-sterile compounding of a wide variety of dosage forms and medications, most commonly pertaining to bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, is another unique service provided. In addition to regular operations, EGP is involved in several clinical services such as diabetes management programs and medication therapy management (MTM) platforms, some of which include Medwise, OutcomesMTM, and DocStation.
Despite serving a relatively small community, EGP has a constant queue of scripts daily leaving little time to be devoted solely to clinical services. Time constraints have been impacted further by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the number of immunizations and associated services EGP has provided to the community. As a result, my main project was to organize clinical service tasks among appropriate employees, create a system for communicating and documenting, and ensuring that the process was straightforward to incorporate into the present workflow for sustainability purposes. By utilizing the current workflow, several employees could be part of the process without leaving the full work burden on the pharmacists. The Appointment Based Model (ABM) becomes a huge asset in this process by knowing when or planning a time that patients will be in the pharmacy. Technicians who focus on bubble packing can identify if new tasks arise for those patients, notify the pharmacist through a note (paper and/or through the patient’s chart), and the pharmacist can provide the intervention when on the phone verifying the patient's medications or when they come in to pick up.
During this experience, I learned how vastly superior a work environment is when co-workers have strong relationships and when the pharmacy has well established connections with frequent providers. This creates an environment of growth mindsets and open communication to ensure patient safety. Further, by cross-training employees, efficiency of the pharmacy can be maximized, and allow for sustainable implementation of clinical services that are of great benefit to the community's health. I thoroughly enjoyed my interactions with every employee and was inspired by the entrepreneurial knack of Andrew Wagner and Mickey Cooper to continuously improve, expand, and innovate their practice.
MedWiseRx (formerly SinfoniaRx) is a clinical call center and Tabula Rasa HealthCare (TRHC) service provider, and I am honored to have been their first DELTA Rx intern. As a TRHC service provider, MedWiseRx provides Medication Therapy Management (MTM) Programs to increase patient safety and promote adherence. I had the unique opportunity to work remotely and interact with other interns and technicians from across the country. During my experience, Kate Waack, RPh, was my mentor who helped me be innovative about my internship experiences.
Towards the start of my internship, I completed training modules and then conducted comprehensive medication reconciliations with patients over the phone. As part of my special project, I hosted meetings with other team members to collaborate on improving onboarding training. I developed various PowerPoint presentations to assist technicians and interns in navigating different platforms used to complete comprehensive medication reviews. I helped to communicate suggestions provided by interns and technicians to the clinical trainers and bridge that gap.
This experience allowed me to develop my business leadership skills and put my clinical knowledge to practice. I gained exposure to the evolving world of Telehealth and the opportunities available. Most importantly, I built valuable relationships that taught me the importance of building trust within healthcare. Completing this internship has motivated me to pursue more opportunities to gain even more insight into becoming a stronger leader.
I had my DeltaRx internship at Hartig drug, located in Dubuque, Iowa. While Hartig drug was founded in Dubuque, they also have stores in Illinois and Wisconsin. In addition to working in their corporate office, I got to visit and learn more about their long-term care pharmacy and their sister company MedOne. The three major projects that I got to work on over the summer were: the profitability project, the Narcan/ DIsposeRx program and a continuous quality improvement assessment.
Since I am pursuing a double-major in Health Informatics and Data Analytics (MS HIA), the profitability project was something that I found interesting and important. For this project, I analyzed about 5 months' worth of data from the company and figured out the bottom 300 most unprofitable patients. My next task was to find ways to make Hartig Drug more sustainable without a drop-in care for the patients. Then, we sent out our suggestions to individual pharmacies and helped them to make that change. The project helped me understand that data can be used in all areas of pharmacy to not only keep a business sustainable but also to optimize patient care.
For my second project at Hartig Drug I researched, developed, and drafted guidelines for dispensing Narcan/ DisposeRx based on Iowa Board of Pharmacy protocols for all Hartig Drug Company pharmacies in Iowa. I researched the current opioid epidemic and how Narcan and DisposeRx can be used to combat opioid abuse. In addition, I got to write a blog about the opioid epidemic on Hartig Drug’s website to raise awareness in the community. This project helped me build upon my clinical knowledge and gave me experience dissecting research articles.
For the final project, I updated and reported to senior management and pharmacy managers the continuous quality improvement (CQI) analysis from 2020 and 2021 YTD which highlighted trends of the most common mistakes and tactics and remediation to prevent adverse events in the future. This project helped me appreciate the administrative side of pharmacy and built upon my knowledge of using data to improve performance.
Although these projects allowed me to explore my interest and improve my skills as a pharmacy student, the times I look back at most fondly are the conversations that I had with my preceptor Charlie Hartig. He taught about not only the business side of pharmacy but also the ethical side. We talked a lot about things that we “can” and what we “should” do to improve patient care. Those conversations will stick with me as I continue to navigate through college and try to improve patient outcomes. I am thankful to DeltaRx and Hartig Drug for giving me an opportunity to be a part of this learning opportunity.
This summer I had the privilege to work alongside Dr. Brett Barker at NuCara Pharmacy throughout this past summer with my DELTA RX internship. Each NuCara pharmacy has a unique environment and place in the pharmacy world. While community chain pharmacies are consistently growing, NuCara offers its patients an invaluable, patient-centered personable experience that I was able to help contribute to. The diversity across NuCara’s independent pharmacies allows the company to lead in innovation and excel in a variety of fields.
My umbrella project for the summer internship was updating NuCara’s Medication Synchronization program, commonly referred to as NuFill. Initially, I started my project by visiting several different community pharmacies across the state of Iowa. During my initial visits, I asked staff members about the biggest benefits they have seen from Medsync, from the patient and pharmacy perspective, how they have been able to incorporate Flip the pharmacy initiates, and their journey with overcoming barriers. I was able to make a comprehensive video for CPESN, which highlighted the major takeaways from my conversations, in order to motivate other pharmacies to incorporate MedSync into their workflow. After these initial visits, I took time to visit several NuCara pharmacies and Medicaps within the area that were successfully sustaining strong MedSync programs. At these visits, I thoroughly learned each pharmacy's MedSync process and took some time to compare their workflow to the PrescribeWellness recommended MedSync process. There were many common themes incorporated with some workflow differences that made each MedSync process at each pharmacy I visited slightly different. I combined and analyzed the information I gathered from my experiences and consolidated the content in order to update the NuFill training. By the end of my internship, I was able to give a final live webinar covering a thorough step-by-step process, alongside best practice tips for incorporating MedSync.
Throughout my time with NuCara Pharmacy, I gained invaluable leadership experiences and project management skills with a strong insight into the entrepreneurial side of pharmacy. I had the opportunity to partake in the development of many projects and I even had the chance to oversee my own work. My overarching Medication Synchronization project gave me the unique hands on ability to visit many NuCara pharmacies and other community pharmacies across Iowa. The autonomy and independence I received in my work, under Dr. Brett Barker’s guidance was a defining experience in my professional development.
This summer, I was able to complete my DeltaRx internship at GRX Holdings. GRX Holdings encompasses 20 community pharmacies primarily under the name Medicap Pharmacy, one compounding pharmacy called Midwest Compounding, and one LTC pharmacy. I was able to spend most of my time under Katie Thaut, the Vice President of Operations, where we were able to work on several projects. Some of the major projects include helping implement a smoking cessation program, to improving the medication synchronization program, and updating the pharmacists in GRX on new influenza, COVID-19, and pneumonia guidelines. Overall, I truly appreciated how flexible Katie and GRX was and how unique each day was as one day I could be in CDC meetings and the next day I was traveling up to Ames learning about Flip the Pharmacy.
My biggest project this summer has been helping reemphasis our Medication Synchronization program especially with the chaos in the pharmacy setting during COVID-19. The project came up when CPESN asked Mahi, the NuCara DeltaRx intern, to help create a motivation video for Flip the Pharmacy stores to invest more into their program. This eventually evolved in how we could improve GRX and NuCara due to the same systems being used for both companies. We traveled to a dozen stores ranging from Eldora to Indianola learning what works and what doesn’t. I was able to compile this information and create a best practices to be sent to each location and to help work with them on overcoming barriers to maximizing their return on the service.
Overall, this has been an exciting opportunity that I am glad I pursued this summer. I am grateful for Katie in her help and guidance this summer and being able to see pharmacy from the business side. I also have been able to meet several incredible pharmacists by being able to visit so many of the stores this summer that I would not have meet without this internship.
This past summer I had the opportunity to do my DELTARx internship at Community, A Walgreens Pharmacy in Des Moines, IA with Dr. Steven Donnelly and Dr. Matthew Korte. This site is a Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC) accredited specialty pharmacy that focuses on patients with complex, chronic, or rare conditions. The team provides support, therapies and unique services to their patients to help them better manage their condition. Some examples of the conditions are helps them manage their conditions and provide services to. Some examples of the conditions are Cancer, HIV, Arthritis, Hepatitis C, Transplants, Psoriasis, and more.
My main project was to implement Medication Therapy Management (MTM) to Area 97 for the Walgreen stores. I created a monthly newsletter to educate other Walgreens team members about the importance of Medication Therapy Management (MTM), update them on their Click Thru Rate, and give best practices on how to successfully complete Comprehensive Medication Review (CMR) and Targeted Intervention Programs (TIPs). I also had the opportunity to present at the Certified Pharmacy Technician Manger (RxOMS) training session about the importance of MTM and how they can assist the rest of the team at their store. Also, I partnered with other student pharmacist to implement MTM services at their own stores. Lastly, I also was able to complete Completed Comprehensive Medication Reviews (CMRs) and Targeted Intervention Programs (TIPs) for stores in Area 97.
Overall, my experience at Community, A Walgreens Pharmacy was phenomenal. MTM is not only important to the pharmacy but also to the patient. With this service we able to help control chronic conditions, monitor patient safety, and the patients are less likely to be readmitted to the hospital. I was able to educate others on the importance of MTM and find ways they can implement it into their workflow. I had the opportunity to develop new skills and deepen the skills that I already had developed. I cannot thank the team enough for an unforgettable experience.