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Endless Opportunities: 2019 DELTA Rx Summer Interns

Five DELTA Rx interns had the opportunity to complete an entrepreneurial-oriented experience this past summer. The mission of the program is to allow pharmacy students to participate in activites that revolve around innovation and entrepreneurship to best prepare them for the rapidly changing environment that is community pharmacy. With the help of our valued partner sites, each student gained skills and knowledge from experts in the field that will best prepare them for their future careers. See the impact their experiences had on them and a brief overview of their summer projects below as we wrap up the eleventh year of the DELTA Rx Entrepreneurial Summer Internship Program: 

Monica Nikseresht's Experience

I had the privilege to work with Dr. Brett Barker with NuCara Pharmacy this summer during my DELTA Rx summer internship. The patient-centered, out-of-the-box thinking culture of the company provides for a unique dynamic resulting in exceptional patient care. Every single person I encountered while we visited 17 sites across four different states had the patient’s best interest in mind, and was willing to go above and beyond. I also had the opportunity to learn more about the Iowa Board of Pharmacy by attending a Rules Committee Meeting and the Open Session of the Iowa Board of Pharmacy Meeting. I have a new found appreciation for everything that goes on behind the scenes so we as current or future pharmacists are able to practice at the top of our degree while protecting the public and our patients. I even had the opportunity to advocate for telepharmacies in rural Iowa to increase patient access to quality care through speaking to an Iowa Representative.

My main summer project included creating framework for a future Community-Based Point of Care Testing (POCT) program. POCT allows pharmacists to perform different CLIA waived tests, such as influenza and step A testing, for patients in an outpatient setting. Following testing, the pharmacist may diagnose and treat patients while working under a collaborative practice agreement and protocols with a prescriber. We were able to fly up to Fargo, ND where we trained seven pharmacists who are now certified to perform these services. I also drafted a CPA, marketing, and screening forms to help guide pharmacies once these services are implemented.

As someone who aspires to develop into an entrepreneurial leader in pharmacy, this internship has highlighted the different paths that are out there to pursue pharmacy ownership. Having the opportunity to speak to T.J. Johnsrud, Owner and Founder of NuCara, on multiple occasions reminded me that it all starts with a vision and hard work. I am thankful to have been a part of the NuCara family this summer, and look forward to see how the company will continually grow and evolve in the future!

Natalie Ake's Experience 

Eagle Grove Pharmacy is an independently owned pharmacy that pursues new and innovative outlets to provide patient care. The pharmacy has many specialized services including diabetes management, compounding, medication bubble packs, and transitions of care management. Patients that receive services from Eagle Grove Pharmacy expect the best and they are not disappointed. During my summer in Eagle Grove, Iowa I was able to observe and partake in these unique services and learn about each along the way. Not only did this experience open my eyes to the business side of pharmacy, but I witnessed the impact that clinical pharmacy has on a community. I was given opportunities to explore reimbursement from Medicare, perform a cost benefit analysis, and review the balance and income statements for the pharmacy. I expanded my experience in marketing and clinical services as well.

After reflecting on my experience, I acknowledged two major take-aways. First, I have so much more to learn. This experience exposed me to more areas of pharmacy and began to educate me on topics that I knew nothing about. Second, I realized I want to pursue change and development in the pharmacy profession. Leaders at Eagle Grove Pharmacy inspire me to provide quality healthcare to patients in new and innovative ways and to have a progressive role in the future of healthcare.  

As my main project, I created an educational program to support and encourage tobacco cessation in the surrounding community. The smoking cessation program I created, spans 24 weeks and includes 10 group sessions that will be led by the pharmacists at Eagle Grove Pharmacy. I wrote the agendas for each of the in-person meetings. The topics for the meetings span from making a quit plan to handling withdrawal symptoms to the health benefits of quitting. Many studies have proven the effectiveness of pharmacist intervention with nicotine cessation and along with pharmaceutical therapy, and I am hopeful that the program can make a difference in the community.

A smoking cessation program that is successful will save lives and decrease health care spending. Currently, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and 50 billion dollars annually is spent on medical services for smokers, thus it continues to be important to find ways to prevent new smokers and reduce current smokers. Along with creating the layout and topics of discussion for the program, I drafted a collaborative practice agreement that will allow pharmacists at Eagle Grove Pharmacy to prescribe pharmaceutical treatments for smoking cessation and may be covered by insurance. This practice agreement will expand the availability of these treatments to patients in need and encourage a strong relationship between patients, physicians, and pharmacists. Furthermore, I created various marketing materials such as a brochure and fliers to advertise the service and to send to physicians to describe the program. Overall, the smoking cessation project will provide therapy and support to patients attempting to quit smoking cigarettes and encourage strong pharmacist-patient relationships.

Nevin Radechel's Experience

My DELTARx entrepreneurial internship with GRX Holdings was the best pharmacy experience I have had. In the ten weeks we worked with Cheri Schmit, we were completed training web based, pharmacy platforms, attended multiple meetings, and worked on a large number of projects. We were always given flexibility to change the internship to what we wanted and better accommodate our goals. We were always busy with things to do, ranging from small marketing projects to creating new policies and procedures that all of the stores would have to follow.

This internship has given me confidence to say that I want to pursue an open position with GRX Holdings in the future. Every level from top to bottom in the company puts a major emphasis on patient care and doing the right thing. This aligns with my morals, and why I wanted to become a pharmacist in the first place.

The project that I had the most passion and time spent on was medication synchronization. For those who do not know, medication synchronization is similar to other auto fill programs that most chain stores utilize. The major differences are that the patients are called 5 days before their medications are due to make sure they need everything filled, check adherence, ask for any therapy changes, and gather other pertinent information. I became engrossed in the project once I realized med sync allowed pharmacists spend more time with patients, take better care of them, and create a proactive workflow instead of reactive.

I started working on the project in the first week when we completed online training through the web platform PrescribeWellness. I was interested in the benefits and convinced the manager at Carlisle, my home store, to start recruiting people for med sync. Once, I became familiar with the platform, workflow, and other tips and tricks, I was allowed to start training other stores on the process. In the last two weeks, I was allowed to train the entire staff at the Beaverdale and Newton stores. During the school year I will be allowed to create a training video and continue to have hands on store visits to try and get all of our stores performing med sync.

Rebecca Heinert's Experience:

Throughout my summer internship with GRX Holdings, I was able to gain a unique perspective of clinical pharmacy and has allowed me to develop applicable skills to continue to advocate and progress the profession forward. I was able to be encouraged and challenged as I created and completed multiple projects throughout the summer that will continue to strengthen pharmacist’s engagement in a community pharmacy setting.

During my experience, I was introduced to the operational and interworking of a corporation, while also understanding the significance of pharmacy operations at an individual store level. By implementing Prescribe Wellness medication synchronizations, completing eCare plans, marketing resources and education, I was further able to implement and understand the importance of pharmacists providing clinical services to greatly improve patient outcomes. The ability for pharmacists to have this interactive role in patient’s healthcare not only allows for improvement in health but also positive life outcomes.

I had the opportunity to further develop both individually and professionally throughout my experience. Through completing multiple trainings, attending meetings, networking and site visits, I was able to develop a greater sense of self-motivation and entrepreneurship. I was able to recognize the importance of developing as a professional and gain skills that will allow me to serve patients to the best of my ability. I am so thankful for the opportunity at GRx Holdings, and to have worked alongside incredible mentors and innovators in the profession of pharmacy.

This summer my biggest focus was creating and implementing eCare plans through the Prescribe Wellness platform. This platform allows pharmacists to be able to have an active role in each patient’s health care experience while also offering services to increase provider-pharmacy communication. Prescribe Wellness allows the ability to send refill reminders, align patient’s medications for Med Sync and complete eCare plans. Through this project I was able to document clinical services which pharmacists provide in a community pharmacy setting. Documenting these services in an eCare plan will allow pharmacists the ability to be billed for their services as a healthcare provider. I was also able to develop an eCare plan template for pharmacists to utilize in order to increase efficiency for future eCare documentations. This project will allow pharmacists to be able to document future services they are providing and continue to have a more interactive role in patient healthcare.

Jacob Drettwan's Experience

Over the summer I was given the opportunity to work at Hartig Drug Company. I worked alongside a newly appointed CEO with a familiar name and a laser-focused eye for innovation, Charlie Hartig. Not only was I exposed to unprecedented workplace autonomy, but I also had a direct line of communication with the head of a company. I quickly learned how to value both. Every morning I made a 5-minute walk from my apartment to HDC’s corporate office in Dubuque. I walked with an overwhelming sense of anticipation. In hindsight, I didn’t even know what I was anticipating, but I knew it beat the morning commute to Hy-Vee. The internship strengthened my career aspirations without a doubt. I hope to build on this experience through innovative opportunities within managed care. Overall, to say the experience was rewarding or educational or whatever up-beat adjective you prefer would be an understatement.

The projects I worked on over the summer changed day-to-day as I learned how to identify value and scale a return. What initially started as pricking my finger all afternoon ended in a company-wide initiative to shift preference away from pricey diabetic monitoring equipment. Other projects included market analysis, business development, and MTM expansion.