It is hard to believe the month of July has come and gone so quickly. Although I am excited to move on to other rotation experiences, I am sad to say goodbye to the MPA staff in Jefferson City. It is amazing how much can be accomplished in such a short time and I am leaving this rotation more experienced and knowledgeable about not only the association, but also some unexpected areas of pharmacy. As my farewell blog post as an MPA intern, I want to recap my experiences and encourage students to consider this rotation.
In addition to working with the MPA staff and learning about many different responsibilities of the association, I had the opportunity to work on many projects this month. I completed many communication pieces for MPA such as blog posts, social media updates, and articles for the quarterly magazine. I attended my first board of pharmacy meeting and learned more about the regulatory aspect of pharmacy. I worked closely with my preceptor, George Oestreich, in many consultation services he provided both directly for the MPA and outside the MPA. One project was to help prepare a proposal for a grant,which is something I never expected to do when starting this rotation. This was a very intense project for me since I had no prior experience in grant writing. Although it was very tedious, at completion of the proposal I was proud of the work I had put in and thankful for the opportunity. Another project I assisted in was to research various state Medicaid coverage of cystic fibrosis medications. This particular task was very helpful in learning how different state’s approached step therapy and prior authorizations for medications. Through this project, I learned how to access Medicaid preferred drug lists on the internet, which will be useful on a daily basis when I return to the community pharmacy setting. I also had the opportunity to assist in chart reviews at a nursing home. I have always been interested in nursing home and long term care consultation services and was grateful for the opportunity that I may have never been able to experience otherwise. To my surprise, this rotation involved an extensive amount of writing. I did not realize how rusty my writing skills had gotten over the course of school where my only writing consisted of hand-cramping pharmacotherapy tests and bullet-point note taking. Although I will be happy to get back to the comfort of my “straight to the point” chart notes, I appreciated the brief change that re-channeled my “creative” writing.
It took me a while to adjust to sitting in the office most days since I am used to the hustle and bustle of a community pharmacy. That being said, it is no surprise that one of my favorite activities was traveling with the marketing manager, Stacey Peters, to visit pharmacies each week. We visited many areas this month including Lake of the Ozarks, Camdenton, Eldon, Holt’s Summit, Fulton and Springfield. We recruited new members, showed current members our appreciation by stopping in to bring them “goody bags”, and spread the word about what the association provides. I enjoyed seeing different pharmacy settings and meeting new pharmacists. Many times I have met pharmacists at school or association events and wanted to visit the pharmacies they work in. It is hard to find time in a busy schedule to stop at other pharmacies to see the unique practice settings and services they each provide to the community, so this was a very much treasured experience.
I also took some time to have lunch with my local state senator, Jay Wasson, and representative, Kevin Elmer. I probably would have never done this on my own if it had not been an objective for the rotation. I am so thankful I had this opportunity and I have a better understanding of the importance of forming a relationship with legislators. I would like to pass on some advice they shared with me during the meeting when I asked what I could do to help them. They both agreed that forming a relationship and taking time to meet in person was very helpful. They receive hundreds of e-mails a day and being able to match a face with a name helps the request stand out. They also stated that while they read the “form” e-mails that associations urge you to forward, it is appreciated when a personal statement about the issue at hand is attached as well. I hope to continue to have relationships with my local senator and representative so that I can be a positive and impactful voice for pharmacy.
My preceptor as well as the MPA staff pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to complete tasks that I had very little experience doing before. I encourage all students to consider doing a rotation at the MPA because it provides a unique view of pharmacy. Students will experience many things on this rotation and it provides opportunities to be tailored to the individual student’s interest. Students will not only become more familiar with the importance of being involved with legislative issues, but also have opportunities to complete many projects with a respected and well-known pharmacist. I want to thank the MPA staff for showing me such support and kindness during this last month and I look forward to staying involved with the MPA as I continue on my pharmacy career!