Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to take part in an eye-opening learning experience at Kaiser Permanente Central Support Services. I applied for, and was accepted to participate in, a six-week-long managed care independent study worth two elective credits.
The Managed Care Independent Study (MCIS) takes place over the summer and is offered to third year pharmacy students from both Regis University and CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy. The course directors are Drs. Heather D. Anderson and Sheila Stadler. This summer, three students from CU and two students from Regis completed the course, which occurs during the summer after P2 year. Throughout the program, students attend once weekly 3-hour sessions learning about various aspects and career opportunities within managed care. Session presenters this summer included Drs. Emily Zadvorny, Sheila Botts and John Hogge, as well as various other pharmacists and clinical specialists. One of my favorite presenters was Ryan Schimmer, Pharm.D, who presented on his experience in Utilization Management, and how his professional contributions have been able to help implement changes at the population level at Kaiser Permanente Colorado.
Diving into research
MCIS students are also committed to selecting a research project of interest and are required to complete 40-50 hours of research work under the direction and guidance of Kaiser Permanente preceptors. Each student is then required to synthesize and present their findings in a formal presentation in front of an audience comprised of pharmacy residents, clinical pharmacy specialists, APPE students, and peers.
My research project focused on examining the usefulness of obtaining vitamin D levels in evaluating statin intolerance due to myalgia. I chose this project because I was interested to learn why select patients may experience muscle symptoms while on statin therapy, specifically with regard to vitamin D deficiency, which could impact their long-term outcomes. Other projects completed this year include refining drug-disease interaction alerts for myasthenia gravis and evaluation of metformin utilization among patients at-risk for recurrent cardiac events. I completed my project independently alongside clinical pharmacy specialists at Kaiser Permanente’s Clinical Pharmacy Cardiac Risk Service (CPCRS), which was a unique and rewarding experience all its own. I also had the pleasure of working with board-certified clinical specialists Ashley Howard and Jennifer Schimmer, who both gave me insightful and invaluable feedback regarding my presentation as well as my performance throughout the project.
Overall, the MCIS was truly a valuable experience. I had several opportunities to interact with pharmacy residents, APPE students, and clinical pharmacists while learning alongside my fellow peers. This independent study offered a look at the multitude of exciting and progressive career and residency opportunities within managed care pharmacy. For example, pharmacists can be trained to work in Utilization Management, where they play an integral role in evaluating and optimizing the use of medications within a managed healthcare organization. Pharmacists can also play a key role in informatics and technology by improving the way that the electronic health record is used to order medications, to manage patient adherence, and to alert for important updates and/or lab values. I must also say that I was amazed to observe the work that is done by pharmacists at the Kaiser Permanente Clinical Pharmacy Cardiac Risk Service in managing patients with CV disease and morbidities, as well as their dedication to promoting general health and wellbeing among all of their patients. The level of care and compassion incorporated into care by the pharmacists of the CPCRS was really a privilege to witness. It was a unique and impactful application of the Pharm.D degree that I had not been aware of about prior to this independent study opportunity.
To the pharmacy student reading this who has even a remote interest in learning about other paths of pharmacy, I kindly urge you to apply for this elective to see what lies along a road less traveled. Applications for the Kaiser Permanente MCIS will become available to P2’s in the 2017 spring semester.