Managed Care Pharmacy

Pharmacy in general is a growing field offering higher-than-average salaries, and a career in managed care pharmacy allows you to dabble in many different aspects of pharmacy and patient care. Keep reading for more career, education and licensure information.

Is Managed Care Pharmacy for Me?

Career Overview

A career in managed care pharmacy combines aspects of all branches of pharmacy, including community and clinical pharmacy as well as pharmacy benefit management. It involves delivering health care benefits to patients via insurance companies and employer plans. Your primary goal as a managed care pharmacist is to balance high-quality patient care with cost effectiveness.

Unlike a clinical pharmacist, who focuses primarily on monitoring patient care at the individual level, you'll expand your focus to include larger populations. In addition to monitoring patients' medication usage, you'll also develop protocols and provide clinical programs, practice guidelines, drug use evaluations and drug usage reviews. Working in managed care pharmacy, you're likely to be employed in a business environment rather than a clinical or retail setting.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide salary data for managed care pharmacists specifically, but it reported a median annual salary of $119,280 for pharmacists in general as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also noted that employment of pharmacists was expected to increase at a rate of 14% from 2012-2022.

How Can I Work in Managed Care Pharmacy?

Education

The training required to work in managed care pharmacy is generally no different from what is needed for any other pharmacist position: the completion of a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program from an accredited school of pharmacy. This 4-year program teaches you about all aspects of drug therapy, including advising patients and filling prescriptions, as well as working with others in the health care industry. You'll also learn about public health, professional ethics and business management. Pharm.D. programs combine classroom instruction with practical experiences working under licensed pharmacists in different settings.

Before you can enter a Pharm.D. program, you'll need to complete at least two years of college courses, though some schools offer 3-year pre-pharmacy programs, and some students earn a 4-year bachelor's degree. To qualify for a Pharm.D. program, you'll need to complete courses in math, chemistry, biology and physics, as well as some humanities and social science courses.

After graduating from a Pharm.D. program, you might also need to complete a pharmacy residency or fellowship, although this isn't a requirement for all positions or employers. Such programs typically take 1-2 years and are designed to prepare you to work in a specialized area of pharmacy.

Licensing

Licensure of pharmacists is a requirement in all states, which means you'll also have to pass a series of exams before you can work in managed care pharmacy. You'll generally need to take the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) and a test on pharmacy law. Depending on where you practice, you could need to complete other exams unique to your state or region. Earning an accredited Pharm.D. approved by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) meets the education and experience requirements for licensure in most states.

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