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CU Pharmacy Alumnus Takes Initiative

Bayli Larson's involvement with ASHP opened doors for a pharmacy career in strategic initiatives

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Written by Jaron Bryant on July 28, 2021

Career Services Manager Laurie Sein puts the spotlight on 2018 graduate Bayli Larson, who completed an ASHP fellowship that evolved into her current role as a Strategic Initiatives Associate for the healthcare professional society.

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What did you do right after graduation and what type of practice are you involved in currently?

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Bayli Larson, PharmD '18

After graduation, I went on to do a post graduate year one (PGY1) residency at UC Health Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, and Kate Jeffers was my residency program director there. Who's still a great mentor of mine. After that residency, I realized I wanted to explore some different avenues. I learned during my residency that I really was drawn towards my administration rotation. I was working on projects and initiatives, so I pursued an Executive Fellowship in Association and Management at the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). I did that for a year and just graduated from that fellowship program in July of 2020. I was able to stay on with ASHP for my new role. The ASHP is an association that represents pharmacists, pharmacy students and pharmacy technicians that practice in acute and ambulatory care settings. They have about 58,000 members. At ASHP, we really work to just improve medication use and enhance patient safety. It's our mission and vision there. My role is strategic initiatives associate. In that role, I help manage and lead a variety of collaborative, cross-organizational strategic activities in the areas of product, program, and business development. I'm also helping with special projects and initiatives, external stakeholder engagement, and some operational work, among other things.

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What main skills are you incorporating into some of the work you described?

Both of my parents are managers and I wonder if it was deep rooted into me at some point and I found my way here. Hopefully, I'm on the trajectory to be on that path. I think of some of the more traditional skills. You have to be kind of a self-starter. You have to be able to work independently, but also with the team. I have definitely been working on developing writing skills in this position, which is a little different from the more clinical setting when you're just writing SOAP notes and more technical things. This writing could go out to all 58,000 ASHP members. Or you could be writing to someone in Congress representing pharmacists. It's definitely a different kind of writing that I've been working on. Other skills include working with different types of people and managing projects that members are working on. Being able to work hard and have integrity and build trust among your co-workers and in members I think are important.

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Who are those external stakeholders you mentioned?

Right now, I'm working on a big project with the American Medical Association (AMA). Other stakeholders are big advocacy groups that are representing other healthcare workers. Get The Medications Right (GTMRx) is one I'm working with a lot. ASHP is on their board and they are all about comprehensive medication management (CMM) and helping to integrate that into value-based care. Those are a couple examples of external stakeholders. Luckily, ASHP has a really great reputation, so a lot of people seek us out and come to us and want to do collaborations and work together to advance the pharmacy profession. I've been lucky enough in my position to be at some of those conversations.

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Walk us through a typical day at work for you. 

I'm working from home now. Pre-COVID, it was the standard 8:30 to five job, which was a draw for me after residency. This is a nice Monday through Friday job. A typical day for me now, because my work is pretty independent, I will usually have my own "to-do" lists and my list of projects I'm working on, either short term or longitudinally. You usually have anywhere from two to five meetings a day. The rest of the time I'm working on those deliverables and some are little quick wins like replying to emails right away or connecting someone and some are longer term projects. Right now, I've been focusing a lot on webinars that we've been doing around COVID. We started our COVID 19 resource page and found one of the best ways in this time when everyone is working remotely is to offer webinars. I've been supporting that role to look anywhere from outreaching drug companies--we had one with Pfizer and Moderna--or the FDA. Anywhere from speaker recruitment to outline planning, to formulating slides and doing the test runs. Lately, my days have been filled with some of those operational projects but then you're in the green room with the director at the FDA and you kind of get some of that fulfillment back. It changes every day, which is one of the things I really like about this role. You can get pulled into different things. Time management is another skill that I know you develop as a student and that has carried through this role as well.

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What is your favorite thing about working in this area of practice?

I love a lot of things about it. I'm really happy in this role and I feel really lucky that I get to do what I do.
I really love the opportunity to advocate for pharmacists and student pharmacists and technicians. This can look like helping to draft policy or participate in Policy Week. It can also look like pre-COVID when I was able to physically go to the Hill with our lobbyist multiple times a month and be able to share my own personal practice experiences as a pharmacist. Which can help them understand when it's always real stories. There's a lot of issues that pharmacists are dealing with and I like being able to keep up with those. Some of the other ones right now are (issues like) reimbursement for pharmacists, scope of practice, drug pricing and drug shortages. I really love the fact that I get to keep a pulse on all those things.

I love that this job took me to a new location. As much as I love Colorado, I think it's really exciting being in Washington DC and I just encourage people to just consider saying yes to opportunities like that. When I moved here, it was for the Fellowship which I knew was only going to be a year. I thought if I hate it, I can always move back. The East Coast is definitely a different culture than Colorado, and I also love that I have the opportunity to live here now.

I also love that I get to help with a wide variety of meetings, summits and events. One of the first things when I came on was an opioid task force. We have our regional House of Delegates and Commission on Goals. It's a great opportunity to kind of take those issues that you want to somehow work on or make other people aware of and really put boots on the ground having stakeholders, physicians, nurses and CEOs all in a room and trying to figure out what we can do about some of these issues. 

Lastly, I like to have the opportunity to help develop some Continuing Education (CE) offerings. Right now, we are able to offer CE for half hour webinars, which I think can be really helpful to members. If you're going to listen anyway, you might as well get an hour of credit for it. So, it can be as short as offering CE for that webinar. I also was able to create a 16-hour certificate product that is available now that will live for three years. It's exciting to see some of your work benefit other pharmacists. One other thing that I've recently loved being a part is our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force with a group of our members, who gave ASHP input on how we can make sure we are supporting our members in those three aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion. Hearing their stories and their recommendations for ASHP and being able to be a part of those meetings was really fulfilling as well.

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What advice would you pass on to current students?

I remember having a speaker from Amgen come visit and I was really grateful that CU brought her in to share her story. That was one of the first planted seeds about other opportunities besides the traditional clinical path. So first I would say look into doing an APPE rotation either at your state or national association. ASHP takes summer interns and APPE students, and I did some elective ones. I think elective rotations can really be a great opportunity.

Other advice is to keep up to date on what you can with the news. It seems like a weird piece of advice, but Henri Manasse was the previous CEO of ASHP and I met him last year at Midyear. His number one piece of advice to me was to start reading the Washington Post. I think even if you can listen to a little NPR every day or wherever you want to get your news, it will serve you well to kind of stay informed on issues going on for conversations either in class or at your rotations, or even at home.

Check out the APPE rotation especially if it's still virtual. Students have really positive experiences and we really value students. Also, look into the Executive Fellowship. ASHP has one; other associations have one.

This is a great profession and I'm extremely happy and proud to be a pharmacist. No matter what you decide, it's going to be okay. That was another piece of advice that Stan Kent told me. He's the chief pharmacy officer at the University of Michigan. When I was trying to talk to him about what I was going to do after my fellowship, he said "Bayli, if you go back to practice, if you stay on if you go into regulatory, it'll be okay." There's not one right and wrong path if you have a good attitude. We're all pharmacists and I think it's important to remember that. People can get really stressed about where they're doing residency or where they're taking the job. There's a lot of opportunity. They'll (current students) all be good and they'll all be okay.

Want to view Laurie's virtual interview with Bayli and check out other resources available through CU Pharmacy Career Services? Access Handshake, the university's portal system for career guidance.

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Topics: Alumni, Pharmacy