Unique Maine Program Gives Pharmacists a Career Head Start

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After earning her doctorate in pharmacy at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, 26-year-old Angela Manzo moved 1,000 miles east for an additional year of residency training in Portland, Maine. And it wasn’t just the famous ocean scenery that caught her attention.

During pharmacy school, Angela set her sights on the selective University of New England’s PGY-1 Community Pharmacy Residency program, run in partnership with Martin’s Point Health Care and Hannaford Pharmacy. This unique program gives pharmacists a wealth of significant experience in a variety of pharmacy fields including: ambulatory care, managed care and community pharmacy, plus teaching and conducting research.

A range of experiences opens more doors

Though the program is young – the first resident completed the program in June 2016 – its value is already clear. As healthcare continues to change rapidly, the role of the pharmacist continues to expand. By working with providers and patients, developing pharmacists have a greater impact on public health. They learn to strategize with doctors, choosing the most effective medications that will be covered by insurance. They also learn to help patients follow their medication regimens properly and work with health plans to optimize coverage.

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“I was drawn to this program because of the three different partnerships and the varied experiences it offers,” explains Angela. “Other programs focus on just one aspect of pharmacy.”

About 10 pharmacists apply for this position every year – and every year, more are “from away.”

Teaching, caring, managing and more

Angela’s schedule has more twists than a New England weather forecast. One day she’s teaching an advanced pharmacy practice lab to third-year PharmD students at the University of New England College of Pharmacy. The next she’s at the Hannaford corporate office in Scarborough, helping design a program to improve medication therapy management or at their Scarborough pharmacy dispensing medications. Then she’s back at Martin’s Point, reviewing medications for patients with chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. In this role, Angela keeps a watchful eye out for drug interactions and therapy problems, and connects weekly with doctors, case managers and social workers to help provide a fuller picture of each patient’s situation.

Part of her work with Martin’s Point also involves helping patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who have recently left the hospital. “I review their medications, comparing what they are taking now to what they were taking before they were admitted so that everyone involved in care is on the same page,” Angela explains. “I also help patients look for cost savings – making sure the inhaler they have is preferred by their insurance plan, for example. Then I gather all the information and send a report to the primary care doctor.”

“Pharmacists can play a big role by reviewing all medications a patient is taking and identifying problems that might have been overlooked,” she says.

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“I never knew how much went on behind the scenes with the insurance plans or understood which drugs are put on a formulary and why,” adds Angela. “It’s also great to see so much outreach to patients. I know they appreciate it – and sometimes we’re the only other voice a patient hears all day.”

Changing hats with every day of the week may be a logistical challenge, but it’s worth it. “I’m getting such diverse experiences,” says Angela. “And because all of my projects continue for a full year, the learning over time can really sink in.”

Time out for Maine fun

Somehow, Angela finds energy to explore all Maine has to offer in her downtime. She’s been to Acadia, Wolfe’s Neck park, Bradbury Mountain, Scarborough Beach, Sebago Lake and more. This winter, snowshoeing and skiing might be on the list. In the city, she’s busy checking out Portland’s vibrant food scene, from Holy Donuts to Duck Fat.

“I really like Maine,” says Angela. “Everyone at Martin’s Point has been so welcoming. Through all the connections I’m making here, I’m hoping to stay.”

Pharmacy Services at Martin’s Point

Martin’s Point Health Care offers a range of pharmacy services, including walk-in and mail-order options. The pharmacies at our health care centers in Portland, Maine, and Portsmouth, N.H., are open to members and the public with prescription services and many over-the-counter medications. For location information and 24-hour refill line numbers, please visit our website. Members of our Generations Advantage and US Family Health Plans can find information on our pharmacy networks here.

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