On the phone and on the go
While the breadth of my job functions as one of three Primary Care Clinical Pharmacists at Kaiser Permanente MidAtlantic States in Springfield, VA, may appear overwhelming to an onlooker, I honestly enjoy the variety of my workdays. Since all of my outreach is completed telephonically, I can self-manage my workload and prioritize as needed in my clinically-stimulating and challenging job.
A day in my shoes
At my practice site, we have more than 20 primary care physicians in addition to various specialty practitioners in areas such as allergy, dermatology, gastroenterology, infectious disease, OB/GYN, and neurology. We have additional teams of pharmacists dedicated to anticoagulation, medication therapy management (MTM), transitional care, and other specialty positions that allow me to focus on my primary care duties.
Because I work for a managed care organization, the majority of my daily activities are focused on meeting quality metrics including Medicare Stars and Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set Measures. This means that I spend most of my time speaking with patients about medication adherence and diabetes management. However, our primary care clinical pharmacy team recently assisted with hepatitis C management due to the large number of patients eligible for treatment.
We also have a Clinical Pharmacy Rheumatology Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drug (DMARD) Counseling Clinic, where we assist with medication counseling and monitoring for those patients newly starting on DMARD therapy or tapering off of biologic DMARD treatment. I am cross-trained for our Nephrology Anemia Clinic, where we monitor patients with chronic kidney disease who are receiving erythropoietin-stimulating agents such as Procrit (epoetin alpha). In between these job functions, I provide medication information services and academic detailing regarding medication conversions, changes, and utilization for our providers and health care team. I also have the opportunity to precept APPE students, as well as pharmacy residents.
Living the NP life
After my day at work, I still find time to exercise at the gym, volunteer with the local cat rescue organization, travel to see my friends, and remain involved in the Twlug New Practitioner Network. All of these activities can add up to a significant amount of time, but I try to stick to a routine and schedule time to relax as needed.
Because my position is a set schedule Monday through Friday, I try to make the most of my evenings (working out with a friend, running errands, cooking, etc.) so that I don’t feel pressured to accomplish everything on Saturday and Sunday. Since I have a regular routine, I have met wonderful new friends at the gym and the cat shelter, which make spending my time at these places a little less “painful” and a lot more fun. Cats (and dogs) are a great stress-reliever after a long week of work! I would highly recommend that you become involved in your community. The impact that you can have is powerful, and the relationships that you will make are invaluable.
Seek an internship
My training as a student pharmacist included 7 years at a community pharmacy and 2 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs’ VALOR Internship program. These experiences prepared me for PGY1 residency training at the Huntington VA Medical Center and a PGY2 ambulatory care residency at the VA Hudson Valley Health Care System in Castle Point, NY.
If you are interested in a position in primary care, I would highly recommend you apply for an internship while you are a student. There are a vast number of summer and year-long internships, but you need to look early. I would recommend looking in February and March for summer intern programs. If you are not sure where to look, ask a faculty member or more advanced student for his/her recommendations.
Even if your interests lie outside of primary care, most associations, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and health care systems hire interns to perform clinical work under the guidance of a clinical pharmacist. Internships will give you first-hand experience within the practice environment, and prepare you for any postgraduate training that you may be pursuing.
Best of luck this school year! I look forward to the day when you join the Twlug New Practitioner Network.