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Career Story: Pharmacist-Supervisor For A Large HMO

Pharmacist-Supervisor For A Large HMO

Job Title: Pharmacist

Type of Company: I work for a nationally-recognized HMO in their mid-Atlantic region.

Education: BS, Pharmacy, St. John's University •• PharmD, University of Kansas

Previous Experience: I worked part-time for 20 years as a registered pharmacist (retail, hospital & home infusion) prior to accepting a full-time position for an HMO.

Job Tasks: I supervise a centralized prescription-filling assembly line, where a team of pharmacists, technicians, and clerks fills prescriptions overnight. Ordinarily, the scrips are printed from a queue, filled by the techs, then checked by the pharmacists and packed by the clerks in time for pick-up and delivery to local HMO affiliates.

This computerized and semi-automated process is designed to move quickly and we are always under pressure to adhere to strict deadlines. But to streamline the process even further while at the same guaranteeing its accuracy, we use barcode-scanning to tell us which medications are needed for each order. A scan of the order at the pharmacist's station shows him directions, co-pays and other details which allow him to confirm that it's correct.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best thing about my job is working overnight. Ours is a very productive shift with few distractions and almost no interruptions. But it is nice to know too that I contribute to patients' health and well-being. Recommending alternative treatments and acting the role of drug expert on the healthcare team is a pleasant challenge.

The worst thing about my job is the pressure to fill all prescriptions. Things get very busy at times and all prescriptions have to be filled before 5am, no matter what.

Job Tips:
1.) Gaining work experience in the field during college is always helpful and will give you valuable hands-on exposure to the workings of a real pharmacy.

2.) Stay current and continue to learn. Pharmacy is a constantly evolving profession for which a specialized understanding of certain areas of treatment (diabetes management, anti-coagulation clinics, cholesterol management, hypertension) is increasingly important. Strive to become an expert in your chosen field.

Additional Thoughts: 1.) Most people don't realize the job opportunities that are available in the field of pharmacy, from sales and marketing to retail dispensing to hospital clinical applications to teaching and research. And the scheduling options are a major positive: you can work day or night, weekends or weekdays... almost any sort of schedule you want.

2.) Always keep in mind that most patients aren't feeling well and that you are very likely their last point of contact in a series of people who have given them healthcare advice. Try to consider the situation and adjust your part in the process accordingly.

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