For some motivation in 2020, I turned to Jerrica Dodd, PharmD, MS, Founder and CEO of Your Pharmacy Advocate, for advice on how to build on your pharmacy career in the new year.
Below are 4 pharmacy-related New Year’s resolutions that can help enhance your pharmacy services, according to Dodd.
1. Get A New Certification
According to the American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP), a board certification indicates an extra level of skill and expertise and can lead to personal satisfaction, financial reward, and career advancement.1 Not to mention, in this competitive job market, a certification will surely make one stand out from the crowd.
Patty Taddei-Allen, PharmD, MBA, BCACP, BCGP, Senior Director of Clinical Analytics at WellDyneRx, advises pharmacists to perform self-reflection to “assess where you are in your career and what you hope to achieve in the short term (within 1 year) and long term (in the next 3 to 5 years).”
Once you identify your goals, Taddei-Allen recommended assessing what skills are necessary to achieve these goals. For example, when she knew she wanted to design and deliver clinical programs, she realized that a Board Certification in Ambulatory Care Pharmacy would be a great certification to achieve, giving her a broad focus on chronic disease management. From there, she went on to obtain her BCGP, knowing that the elderly population was rapidly growing and would need clinical services.
Taddei-Allen credits her certifications with helping her to develop clinical programs and analytics as well as formulary management. A bonus: “The ongoing board certification education requirements, which are intense and require focus and true understanding of clinical principles, also keep me on my toes and up to date with relevant clinical care.”
2. Go Green
According to an article in PBA health, customers prefer shopping from companies committed to the environment.2
“We believe it is our responsibility to maintain this planet for future generations,” Courtney McQuade, PharmD, owner of McQuade’s Marketplace pharmacies, said. “We are always looking to improve our environmental impact. As grocery store pharmacies, we always strive to ]provide the best service while helping to maintain the environment for future generations.”
McQuade’s deliveries, both prescriptions and groceries, go out in diesel vans that have been retrofitted to use vegetable oil that is a waste product of their kitchens and cafe. They boast a large solar array, converting natural sunlight into energy and have also eliminated plastic bags at the checkouts, using recycled paper bags instead.
Additionally, McQuade is replacing a large percentage of health and beauty care products with sustainable lines that use minimal packaging. The stores carry many other items that are reef safe and packaged in metal tins. Dr Bronner’s soaps and washes are a hot seller due to the company’s commitment to the environment.
3. Get Out From Behind The Counter
According to ASHP Guidelines on Pharmacist-Conducted Patient Education and Counseling, “pharmacists can contribute to positive outcomes by educating and counseling patients to prepare and motivate them to follow their pharmacotherapeutic regimens and monitoring plans.”
A major cause of nonadherence is that patients do not understand their conditions and medications and the importance of adherence to therapy. However, in the daily chaos of being overworked and understaffed while trying to add in dozens of immunizations, how do we find time to fulfill our duty to help patients?
Trisha Winroth, PharmD, is the pharmacy manager at Walgreens in Lowell, MA. She acknowledged, “Counseling patients in a busy retail setting is an ongoing challenge as the demands grow to do more with less.” Winroth prioritizes patient-centered tasks and delegates other tasks to her qualified technicians. “Training and engaging technician staff to work at their top capacity frees up valuable minutes for pharmacists to engage with patients.” For example, with vaccinations, her technicians perform data entry, go over paperwork with the patient, and ring up the sale, so that the pharmacist can spend time speaking to the patient while administering the vaccine.
“A successful pharmacy team will quickly develop methods to ensure the patients who need the pharmacist’s time get it.”
Bhavana Mutha, RPh, BCMAS, reminded us that “counseling patients is one of the most important aspects of pharmacy.” Mutha recalled a time when, on just another routine, hectic day at the pharmacy, she noticed a patient who seemed out of sorts. “I immediately stepped out of the pharmacy. This woman was 7 months pregnant, dizzy, and about to fall. I had her sit down and checked her blood pressure. The number was very low. I directed the technician to maintain the pharmacy workflow and had another member of the team grab Gatorade while keeping her in sight.”
Mutha and her pharmacy team helped the patient, staying with her until she felt better, reached out to her family, and made sure she made it home safe. Feeling gratification from helping this patient out of a risky situation, Mutha proudly said, “We are the face of health care, with so much knowledge, and should abide by counseling in our role.”
4. Get Reimbursed For Services
We hear a lot about provider status and pharmacists being reimbursed for clinical services.
Ambulatory care pharmacists are already being reimbursed for services such as anticoagulation, behavioral health, and oncology. Some pharmacists are billing for office visits. Often, getting reimbursed involves getting creative, forming collaborative practice agreements with physician offices, offering enhanced services such as medication consultations or managing prior authorizations.
After completing his community pharmacy rotation, Michael Higbee, PharmD, pharmacy manager and clinical specialist at Buhl Drug in Buhl, Idaho, saw the potential in providing reimbursable clinical services to the community.
Soon after he graduated pharmacy school, Higbee opened Buhl Drug. “From the start, I focused on MTM services, employer health programs, and physician outreach.” Over the last 9 years, Higbee has built a fee-for-service patient care pharmacy.
Through marketing his MTM services, he receives patient referrals from local providers who pay cash for clinical services. Higbee goes out into the community to provide on-site flu shot clinics for various clubs, businesses, schools, and municipalities, billing directly for those services.
Building on those relationships, he offers smoking cessation treatment and weight loss clinics, charging the employer $40 per employee who enrolls.
Several years ago, Higbee wrote a collaborative practice agreement with a local physician so he could prescribe smoking cessation therapies. Since then, laws have changed in Idaho and pharmacists are allowed to prescribe for a host of conditions. Because they cannot currently bill insurance for these services, they charge a competitive cash price in line with insurance copays.
“Patients are usually happy to pay the small service fee because they can get quick service instead of waiting days to get into an available doctor,” Higbee said.
Higbee, who has been recognized for outstanding outcomes and was a regional McKesson Healthmart Pharmacy of the Year winner, also regularly prescribes naloxone (Narcan) to patients on opioids, without charging for that service.
“I personally feel so much more fulfilled with my career when I am an active participant in my patient’s health care team. Pharmacists learn and train to provide these services, but all too often are stuck just trying to keep their head above water in understaffed pharmacies. There is nothing better than making a real difference for my patients.”
1. American College of Clinical Pharmacy. Board Certification. ACCP’s website.https://www.accp.com/stunet/compass/certification.aspx.
2.How to Make Your Pharmacy Go Green and Wow Patients. PBA Health. Published August 24, 2017. https://www.pbahealth.com/ make-pharmacy-go-green-wow-patients/
3. ASHP. ASHP guidelines on pharmacist-conducted patient education and counseling. Am J Health. 1997; 54:431-4.