Friday, October 16, 2009

Exploring a Different Side of Pharmacy

Posted by Kendra Yum at Friday, October 16, 2009

Last Friday, I listened to two physicians speak to pharmacists about reinventing health care in America. Their names? Howard Dean and Bill Frist.

They were the keynote speakers during Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s (AMCP) Educational Conference. I had the pleasure of attending the conference since I was presenting a poster project from my managed care summer internship in Seattle.

It was interesting to hear what these two well-known politician/physicians had to say about what may and should happen to America’s healthcare system. They presented various hot-topic questions: Would a public option introduce competition and efficiency into the healthcare market? Could it crowd out the private sector? Should there be a healthcare mandate? After a dynamic and lively presentation, an anonymous member of the audience posed a final question: “Would either of you be interested in joining the next season of Dancing with the Stars?”

In addition to hearing about the healthcare reform debate, the conference offered sessions related to emerging trends in the pharmaceutical pipeline, specialty products and managed care pharmacy. I had the privilege of meeting a number of student pharmacists from all across the nation. Many of them took part in AMCP’s Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) competition, where students are charged with the task of analyzing a product dossier and preparing a P&T monograph and presentation.

To give you a glimpse of my managed care summer internship, I stayed in the beautiful city of Seattle and worked at Group Health Cooperative for nine weeks. I had the chance to contact prescribers and patients about the availability of a generic ophthalmic medication. I presented evidence-based information to clinicians which examined high-risk medications in the elderly. I also created and presented a drug monograph for Group Health Cooperative's P&T committee. I developed a project on medication safety, focusing on chemotherapy administration in the outpatient setting. Based upon reported medication errors, published recommendations, and discussions with clinical pharmacists, I helped identify opportunities for improvement and drafted a new policy on chemotherapy handling that included additional error-prevention safeguards.

A final remark about the AMCP conference: I had a GREAT time in San Antonio! I connected with many of the students and pharmacists at the conference on the riverboat tour, while visiting the historic Alamo, and over Tex Mex cuisine and some darn good margaritas!

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