AMCP Foundation/Allergan/Pfizer Interns Share Their Experiences

Six talented student pharmacists from across the country participated in this year's AMCP Foundation/Allergan, Inc. Specialized Summer Internship in Health Outcomes and Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Pharmacy Summer Internship Programs.

The AMCP Foundation/Allergan, Inc. program creates awareness of career paths in health outcomes and pharmacoeconomics research, which are the foundation for evidence-based decision-making in managed health care systems. The program also exposes interns to the pharmaceutical industry, and managed health care systems.

The AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. program aims to develop future leaders in managed health care and through activities that expose interns to population health and the application of managed care pharmacy principles in formulary management, benefit design, medication therapy management and adherence management.

Each intern wrote an account of their experience this summer.

 

Chukwukadibia Udeze and Fahim Faruque  
2016 AMCP Foundation/Allergan, Inc. Specialized Summer Internship in Health Outcomes  
University of Maryland  
Site: Allergan, Inc.  

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Faruque and Udeze 
 

On June 20th, Chuka Udeze and Fahim Faruque began their time with Allergan as Academy of Managed Care (AMCP) Foundation/ Allergan, Inc. Specialized Summer Interns in Health Outcomes. The goal of the AMCP Foundation/Allergan Inc. internship is to create awareness of career paths in health outcomes and pharmacoeconomics research, which underpins evidence-based decision making in managed health care systems. Under the supervision of Patrick Gillard, Kate Keyloun mentored Chuka Udeze and Ilia Ferussi mentored Fahim Faruque for the duration of the internship.

Under the guidance of Ilia, Fahim pursued a project where he learned about patient reported outcomes. Fahim also learned about the best practices for conducting a systematic review and this opportunity allowed Fahim to successfully complete a systematic review. With Kate’s guidance, Chuka worked on a project exploring the practise patterns for patients with Acute Bacterial Skin and Skin Structure Infections (ABSSSIs). He also worked with Kate to complete a systematic literature review elucidating the costs and clinical implications associated with treatment failure for patients on antibiotic therapy. Most importantly, they were both able to shadow their mentors gaining invaluable experience about a career in health economics and outcomes research.

In addition to the projects, Fahim and Chuka had the opportunity to meet with members of the GHEOR teams and attend the global health economics and outcomes research (GHEOR) 2016 Strategic Planning Workshop where they were exposed to department leads with whom GHEOR has cross-functional interactions. This workshop was instrumental to the interns learning where GHEOR fits within the company and the importance of cross-functional work within Allergan.

Both Interns enjoyed their experiences here at Allergan over the summer. “The opportunity to work in the GHEOR department gave me invaluable insight into how a department functions in the pharmaceutical industry. It far exceeded my expectations in teaching me about the research process and the utility of HEOR in the pharmaceutical industry,” says Fahim. “This eye opening experience has solidified my career aspirations of working as a pharmacist in the pharmaceutical industry,” says Chuka.

 

Ibrahim Khilfeh  
2016 AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Summer Internship  
University of Washington, School of Pharmacy  
Site: Premera Blue Cross  

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Ibrahim (right) with Premera staff.  
 

Personally, it has been difficult to explore non-traditional pharmacy careers in an academic curriculum that traditionally focuses heavily on clinical careers. However, this summer’s AMCP Foundation/Pfizer Inc. Managed Care Summer Internship has undoubtedly been one of my most influential experiences in narrowing down my career interests. Although I spent most of my summer working with managed care pharmacists at Premera (a health benefits company), I have nonetheless collaborated closely with pharmacy professionals in health economics, medical outcomes, and industry. The sheer diversity of career opportunities available to pharmacists is quite remarkable.

It is difficult to select my favorite experience of the internship, but one prominent aspect was the lack of redundancy throughout the internship. Every day was full of new and insightful experiences, but also novel challenges requiring innovative critical thinking. I never felt like I was conducting repetitive tasks nor did I feel burnt out, but rather I was continually challenged, which in turn motivated me to continue my work. Moreover, the magnitude of collaboration at Premera was certainly a positive aspect of the internship. I persistently hear about the vitality of collaboration in healthcare. However, the manifestation of the word “collaboration” at Premera was truly magnificent. Not only did I experience intertwined support from pharmacy staff, but also from pharmaceutical professionals, other managed care personnel, and even healthcare providers in the region. It was captivating to experience the teamwork of various complementary healthcare entities; academic coursework can only do so much to illustrate such collaboration.

My experience could not have been nearly as insightful without the extraordinary dedication by my preceptors Eric Guyette, John Watkins, Dan Danielson, and the valuable insight from my Pfizer medical outcomes specialist (MOS) Dave Gross. Furthermore, the professionals at Pfizer’s headquarters unquestionably added to the value of the internship, hearing about their unique careers, experiences and wisdom is irreplaceable. Ultimately, if I had to select the most valuable portion of this internship, it would be the opportunity to learn from my preceptors and Pfizer MOS, they are surely some of the most brilliant individuals that I have met.

 

Alexander Marshall  
2016 AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Summer Internship  
University of Pittsburgh, School of Pharmacy  
Site: Prime Therapeutics  

 Alex 
Marshall 
 

Having grown up in Pennsylvania, I was very excited to get the news that I would be living in Minnesota for the AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Pharmacy Summer Internship with Prime Therapeutics. I had high expectations for my ten week experience, and the internship exceeded all of them. Prime provided me exposure to all aspects of managed care. When I first arrived, Craig Mattson, my preceptor, had set me up in rotations in the different departments in Prime. It was like a mini residency! Learning from experts in the many areas of managed care was a great way to better understand the organization as a whole. By the time I completed the rotations, I had a good sense of the clinical operations at Prime. This would not be possible without each department giving up their time to help me learn, and for that I am grateful.

I have a strong interest in Health Economics and Outcomes Research, so this aspect of the internship was particularly appealing to me. Working with Pat Gleason and the health outcomes team at Prime was incredibly valuable. I will always remember the first meeting I had with the outcomes team and the way they incorporated me as an important member of the team. Pat served as a mentor to me throughout the internship. During each meeting, Pat challenged me to perform at my highest level, asking me questions and pushing me to keep digging to learn more. It was a great experience to work on an interdisciplinary team with Pat Gleason, Kevin Bowen, and Cathy Starner. I am very excited to present our work at the AMCP Nexus conference.

As someone with a strong interest in the pharmaceutical industry, the Pfizer component of the internship was very exciting to me. Kevin Odell, my Pfizer Medical Outcomes Specialist, has served as a mentor to me and taught me a lot about the pharmaceutical industry. Kevin always made the effort to provide support for the outcomes research project and give me additional opportunities to take on projects at Pfizer. I could not have asked for a better experience from the AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Pharmacy Summer Internship with Prime Therapeutics. I will certainly always use the skills I learned from my time working at AMCP, Prime Therapeutics, and Pfizer in my career.

 

Benjamin Wu  
2016 AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Summer Internship  
University of Maryland, School of Pharmacy  
Site: Independent Health  

Wu
Wu 
 

The AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Pharmacy Summer Internship was an invaluable experience. I was fortunate to explore and deeply delve into the vast number of careers pharmacists can hold in the future. Since the different players in the healthcare system work so closely with each other, I was able to gain insight into functions in other settings such as the New York Department of Health (DOH), Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), and even the numerous roles pharmacists can play at Pfizer, Inc.

Independent Health Corporation (IH) has really shown me the importance of managed care pharmacy and just how impactful and beneficial its role is in its surrounding community of Buffalo. From meticulously designing its formulary to their comprehensive MTM encounters to securing contracts and rebates, I can see just how Independent Health provides its community with the best health products and services while being economically efficient.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the impact of managed care on health policy. Operating at the population level, there is no better organization that is more informed of the needs of the patients. With the New York State Assembly in session, I saw new bills passed to combat the opioid epidemic and the needed response by the DOH and IH to support the new bill. There was also a more controversial bill that was soon to be called to the governor’s desk, and I was able to see the responses and actions taken by all players.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Pharmacy Summer Internship. I’ve only touched on the amount of information obtained and skill sets developed during my time in Buffalo. I am excited for the future of managed care and cannot wait to join the field as a pharmacist.

 

Jamie Ta  
2016 AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. Managed Care Summer Internship  
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences  
Site: SelectHealth  

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Ta with SelectHealth staff. 
 

The AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. internship was an amazing learning experience. This past summer, I spent 10 weeks at SelectHealth in Salt Lake City, UT, a regional health plan that is part of Intermountain Healthcare and serves approximately 800,000 members in Utah and Idaho. Throughout my time at SelectHealth, I worked on a variety of clinical projects, including various drug monographs, drug utilization reviews, and claims analyses. One of my major projects was a retrospective claims analysis utilizing integrated medical, pharmacy, and laboratory claims data to examine comparative adherence and effectiveness among the newer classes of antidiabetic medications. From this project, I was able to explore real-world utilization patterns and examine the impact of medications on patient outcomes. I had the opportunity to present my research project at the Pfizer corporate headquarters in New York City and internally at SelectHealth. I also prepared a therapeutic class review and presented my recommendations for formulary placement of a novel agent to SelectHealth’s Pharmacy & Therapeutics (P&T) Committee.

In addition to my projects at SelectHealth, I enjoyed opportunities to gain exposure to a variety of health plan operations and clinical programs at SelectHealth and Intermountain Healthcare, as well as career opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry. I participated in various manufacturer clinical presentations and contracting meetings, spent a day at the Intermountain Specialty Pharmacy, and attended meetings with SelectHealth pharmacists working collaboratively with various healthcare professionals throughout the Intermountain Healthcare system to improve healthcare delivery, care coordination, and patient outcomes. From these experiences, I have been able to gain valuable insight into the unique roles, challenges, and opportunities for managed care pharmacists working within an integrated healthcare system. I was also paired with a Pfizer Medical Outcomes Specialist throughout the internship and was able to gain an appreciation for her role in facilitating the collaboration between managed care and industry to improve patient outcomes. In addition, I visited Pfizer headquarters in New York City, where I rotated through several departments at Pfizer and met with various Pfizer pharmacists to learn about the different pharmacist roles in the pharmaceutical industry.

I am extremely grateful to AMCP Foundation and Pfizer for making this internship possible. Throughout my time at SelectHealth, I have gained professional mentors, friends, and rewarding experiences that will be valuable toward my professional journey. The internship has greatly broadened my exposure to the ever-growing pharmacist roles and rewarding opportunities within managed care and industry to meaningfully impact population health outcomes. The internship has provided me numerous opportunities to learn and develop my own skills in formulary benefit design, evidence-based medicine, and outcomes research. I look forward to building on these skills in my future career, and I hope that the AMCP Foundation/Pfizer, Inc. internship program will continue to provide future students these invaluable hands-on experiences toward their pharmacy careers.