It’s time to change course and now I’m exploring the world of Pharmacy Benefits Management aka PBM.
Isn’t this blog all about my journey into the world of Epic and my life as an Epic Willow Pharmacist?
Well, yes and no.
It did start out as a way for me to document the process I went through to become an Epic Willow Pharmacist and what life was like on the inside, working day-to-day as an Epic Willow Analyst. I did my best to share all that and respond to the questions I got on the topic and help provide direction to others who want to walk that path.
You can go here to check out the Epic Willow Q&A Page.
As you can tell from my About page, I like to keep things fluid in my career and the time has come for me to make yet another change and try something new in the world of pharmacy.
I went dark for a while there but it wasn’t without reason. I was working on a game plan, and here it is…
The really nice thing about being Epic certified is that there is no shortage of consulting work (even more opportunities if you’re willing to travel). That means that walking away from the comfort and security of a full-time position doesn’t have to be the end of a healthy, consistent pay check, but there will be some sacrifices to make.
So here’s my new plan:
I want to get into the world of pharmacy benefits management (PBMs). I’ve never worked in or for a PBM, and quite frankly, right now I know very little about what they do and the inner workings of PBMs but I’m going for it anyway. I had no Epic experience before I got in and look at me now! 🙂
Okay, so I have no previous experience working for a PBM and one of the major hurdles I anticipate I’ll have to overcome is getting my foot in the door for exactly this reason… because I have no prior experience in this industry.
I know this to be true because I’ve already started looking at job postings and have not yet seen one posting that does not require applicants to have at least 2 years of experience working for a PBM. And this is what gets my goat… How does anyone get experience if employers make that very experience a pre-requisite for employment???
Anyway, I believe if others without experience were able to get into the PBM industry, then so can I.
I’ll be documenting my journey from job search to interviews (hopefully I’ll get some) to in-the-trenches reporting. Hopefully it will be as helpful and revealing as what I have shared about my experience as an Epic pharmacist.
I’ve also created a page to document more information about PBMs like I did for Epic. I’ll be researching the industry and putting the evergreen info on that page while I document more day-to-day activities involving my job search and actual work on the blog.
So… Am I leaving Epic and walking away from being an Epic Willow pharmacist altogether?
No! At least, not anytime soon…
After all the time and effort I put into getting certified and getting all that experience under my belt, there’s no way I plan to give that up now.
Because I anticipate it will take some time to break into the PBM industry, and because I now have almost 3 years of Epic experience under my belt, I plan to take on consulting assignments as I apply to and interview for pharmacy benefits management/PBM pharmacist jobs.
The great thing is that many organizations now don’t require you to travel very much and be onsite 100% for these Epic Willow Pharmacist consulting assignments, so it’s possible to get a gig that requires only 25-50% travel. I’ve even seen some that are 100% remote! Ah, the joys of healthcare IT and the ability to get work done remotely… 🙂
Remember back in May of last year when I announced that I was going to become a pharmacist lifestyle blogger?
Yeah… Life kind of got in the way of that but I’m back on track with it and I have a plan for that as well.
I’m really excited about it, I have a plan in place for how to execute on that and I’ll give you that update in a separate blog post 😉
I just stumbled on your website as I was searching about PBM pharmacy and ways to get into that industry. Currently a clinical pharmacist in hospital setting, however, getting to my 7 year mark in my hospital but would like to transition to PBM world.
Based on your journey so far. Have you made any progress?
Thank you for asking… I think an update is in order 🙂
I actually DID get a job with a PBM company but it turned out not to be the breath of fresh air and course change I had hoped it would be.
There were some good things about it e.g. we had the ability to work remotely, there was a heavy clinical bent to the work, and it was a great refresher on clinical pharmacology as well as a good way to really learn about new evidence-based treatments for diseases and the new drugs on the market.
Some not-so-good things about it… It’s all about the $$$ and how much can be saved so sometimes some of the decisions we had to make were not necessarily in the patients’ best interest and quite frankly, I had a hard time with that because our hands were kind of tied as pharmacists and we could only operate within the parameters we were boxed into.
The most major drawback though and the one I finally decided made holding on to the job not worth it was the pay. Being an Epic Willow pharmacist and getting paid like an IT professional, it was EXTREMELY difficult to justify keeping the PBM job, even as a side hustle, because the pay was so (almost) insultingly low. By low, I mean that even if you worked as an FTE for them you’d still be making way below $100K… Waaaay below…
I find it hard to believe that even new pharmacy grads would be satisfied with that pay unless the market for pharmacists is just that saturated… I don’t know, but I’m guessing it might be because they had a lot of pharmacists on staff at this company.
Their justification for the low pay lies mainly in the fact that they offer the remote aka “work from home” option, but let’s face it… Even if you work from home full time, your mortgage or rent doesn’t automatically decrease as a result, in fact, I bet most peoples’ utility bills actually go up BECAUSE they’re home more during each 24-hour period.
Anyway, I won’t go off here. Suffice it to say that for now, I’m sticking with where I’m being fairly compensated for what I bring to the organization I work for.
How is your own foray into the PBM world going?