Students seek broader knowledge base

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Students seek broader knowledge base

By Sandra Levy - 12/28/2018
It used to be that top-notch clinical skills would ensure pharmacy graduates land a high-paying job in retail pharmacy. Yet times have changed. Faced with fierce competition and new models of reimbursement for value-based outcomes, retail pharmacies are looking more closely at pharmacists’ curriculum vitae. Pharmacy grads who also have attained business, technology and leadership skills are likely to have the upper hand.

Realizing that many pharmacy students want to gain business acumen, but are unsure about whether they want to get an MBA, led the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy to create a Pharmacy Operations and Technology Management concentration launched last spring through a partnership with the Wisconsin School of Business’s Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management, the program enables its PharmD students to devote 12 credits to business electives. Their clinical rotations are business-focused in healthcare management and leadership. In the fourth year of the program, students do a leadership rotation in the community for six weeks.

“With so many pharmacy career paths that require business skills and the growing interest in entrepreneurship, our PharmD students can access essential business training without adding additional time to get their degree, and they still graduate in four years in the PharmD program,” Ed Portillo, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy, who is leading the new concentration.

Noting that research has shown that 70% of pharmacy managers and those in pharmacy leadership roles are expected to retire in the next 10 years, Portillo said the program helps prepare students to lead.

“The students can go right into high-level leadership positions, and they’ll have the background to drive change in those positions,” he said. They’ll be in a position to do innovative work very early in their career and improve patient outcomes.

Miranda Kozlicki, a third-year PharmD student enrolled in the concentration, said she wanted to get more specialized training in healthcare leadership and management.
“I have the opportunity to work with MBA students that have a wide variety of backgrounds outside of pharmacy, where we focus on how we can provide value to businesses and the patients we serve,” Kozlicki said.