Week 8: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

August 31st, 2012

With NACDS President and CEO, Steve Anderson.

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

I spent my last week with NACDS in Denver, CO for the NACDS Pharmacy and Technology Conference. My time at the Conference was the highlight of my summer and I could not imagine a better way to wrap up my internship. It was satisfying to see all the work my colleagues and I did come together. The education sessions I worked on with my colleagues for the past two months resulted in record attendance. The conference also provided me with opportunities to network with NACDS members. For example, I was fortunate enough to meet Greg Wasson, the CEO of Walgreen Co., and Terry McAullife, the Former Chairman of the Democratic Party.  These connections are already paying off as I begin to refine my job search for after graduation. For example, Mr. Wasson has already helped me connect to some people within Walgreens, and other professionals I met at the conference gave me advice on job search strategies. Such opportunities would never have been possible without NACDS!

Before the Exhibit Hall opened

NACDS Pharmacy and Technology Conference Closing Reception

The NACDS team worked hard at the conference but they also showed me how to have a wonderful time! Some of the fun perks of being in Denver with NACDS included attending the Upsher-Smith Wine Tasting Reception, going to a Rockies game, and attending a concert by Bad Company as part of our closing reception. It was so much fun to let loose with my coworkers and other NACDS friends and members after a busy couple of days at the conference! I could not have asked for a better way to wrap up my fellowship and to spend my last night with NACDS!!

The NACDS Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy team (best co-workers!)

My fellowship at NACDS has been one of the most amazing and valuable experiences I’ve ever had. Getting out of my comfort zone and immersing myself in a field I knew little about taught me a lot about work ethics, professionalism, and how the pharmacy and pharmaceutical industry work. It was great to gain exposure on lobbying, advocacy, and other functions of a trade association. On top of all that, living in DC and being in a different time zone from my closest friends and family forced me to form new friendships and be truly independent in an unfamiliar city. As a result, I was able to have fun while still gaining invaluable skills applicable to both my professional and personal life. Because of my time at NACDS, I certainly feel more prepared for the real world and am anxious to finish my senior year of college.  My fellowship experience has been amazing and saying goodbye to the NACDS team could not have been more bittersweet. Words cannot express my gratitude to have had this extra ordinary fellowship as part of my Cornell experience.

Week 7: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

August 21st, 2012

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

This week was all about polishing the knots and bolts of the projects I have been working on for the past month. As our team wrapped up preparation for the Pharmacy and Technology Conference, I revised scripts for the education sessions and organized materials for attendees. We had our staff briefing to go over our roles as NACDS staff at the conference, business expense reports, and other logistics before we head out to Denver for the conference. Other than prep-work for the conference, I completed final deliverables of my long-term project. I also researched more health outreach programs and identified what kinds of programs align with the NACDS Foundation’s mission and which ones would be worth pursuing. In addition to my assignments, I read more health and chain drug store news on my long commute to and from work because of my increasing interest in working for pharmacy after graduation. Plus, this was a great way to further familiarize myself with NACDS members and associates before the conference.

As for my last weekend in DC, my co-workers and I spent some time networking and socializing with other interns and young professionals in the area. We went to a Nats Game and attended a Third Eye Blind concert together. A fun weekend was a great reward after all of our hard work in the office this week!

 

Week 6: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

August 14th, 2012

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

Busy week at the office continued as we wrapped up a couple projects and as we took some projects to the next level. A couple examples of my work this week were writing scripts for the Pharmacy and Technology Conference Education Sessions, researching programs, and finalizing selections and processing NACDS Foundation Million Hearts Grant initiatives. I also presented the findings of my long-term project to the NACDS Foundation President, Kathleen Jaeger, and my other co-workers. Apparently it went quite well because I received the green-light to take the project to the next step. One of the biggest take away this week was getting feedback from the newsletter I drafted last week. Although it may sound like a simple assignment, it was difficult to create the right voice appropriate for the NACDS Foundation, the pharmaceutical industry, and its general audience. My assignments at NACDS pushed me to hone my communication and writing skills, as well as to think both critically and objectively- which is really what makes this experience so valuable.

I also spent time this week with other pharmacy interns in Alexandria. We grabbed lunch at a local restaurant and a couple of us hung out in downtown DC over the weekend. My boyfriend, Andrew Patzke, also flew in to DC this weekend. I showed him around Alexandria and he showed me around the National Mall and the GW area where he stayed a few summers ago while interning on The Hill during his junior year at Cornell. We visited the Memorials (i.e. Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and WWII Memorial) and the Holocaust Museum, which is now my favorite museum in DC. I have wanted to visit the Holocaust Museum ever since a class in Public History and Public Memory at Cornell, where I learned about the planning and effort that went into establishing the museum; visiting the site was quite an experience.

I am looking forward to this upcoming week where I will be doing fun activities with my co-workers after work and continuing to learn from my unique and valuable experience at NACDS!

Week 5: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

August 5th, 2012

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

It is amazing how fast the summer seems to be flying by. Many of my friends and acquaintances are getting ready to leave the area in a week, and I only have three weeks left at NACDS and in DC to fit in as many experiences as possible!

At NACDS, I continued to work on several projects for Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy, as well as for the Foundation. Some new projects include writing the Foundation Newsletter, writing scripts for our upcoming conference, and researching health outreach programs. After having attended the Senate Caucus where the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) discussed the issue a few weeks ago (refer to my blog from Week 3), I was particularly excited to investigate educational programs and public outreach preventing prescription drug abuse and what the NACDS Foundation can do to help. With a variety of assignments on my plate, NACDS kept my week interesting and productive.

The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, Retail Floor

I also was able to spend some time with my colleagues outside of the office this week, which gave me the chance to get to know them in a more relaxed setting. We had dinner and went to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary (where Virginians like Martha Washington and Robert E. Lee got their medication) to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday (an excuse to show our nerdy side and inner child). My colleagues and I also met up with some of the interns from the Pharmacy Intern tour. It was nice to connect with everyone while learning some pharmacy history and that there is some real science imbedded in J.K. Rowling’s wizard world. To wrap up the week, we attended a small get-together with other young pharmacy professionals in the DC area on Friday night. What a fun way to cap off the week!

After mingling with other pharmacy interns and executive residents on Friday, three of us decided to tour Mount Vernon on Saturday (home of George Washington- I didn’t fly back to Iowa). Exploring the Washington Estate and Garden took us about four hours. We also took a cruise down the Potomac River, which gave us another gorgeous view of Mount Vernon. It was a long and exhausting day, but we certainly got our money’s worth and learned a lot about the Washingtons and life in the 18th century.

Despite my busy schedule at work and with my colleagues, I have also been able to find some time connecting with my fellow Cornell Rams in DC! We explored Chinatown, went to the National Portrait Gallery (got to keep checking off my “DC To-Do List”), and shared our summer stories around dinner and in between stops. There may not be much time left before we make our way back to the Hilltop (the other Mount Vernon), but there is enough time to keep on making summer memories here in the DC area.

In front of the Mount Vernon Mansion

The Tomb of George and Martha Washington

Washington’s Backyard

View of the Estate from the Potomac River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 4: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

July 30th, 2012

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

This week, I had the opportunity to do some things I’ve been meaning to do since I arrived in DC. I toured the White House, spent time at the National Harbor with a recent Cornell grad; visited the Renwick Gallery, and met up with an old friend from high school who is also interning in the DC area. Sharing 3 years worth of stories was one fun and (extremely) long dinner conversation! Touring the White House is a must see opportunity for DC interns, even though only a portion is open to the public, and the National Harbor offered some fantastic views.

I have also been looking forward to the Pharmacy Intern tour since myfirst day at NACDS. It was great to meet other interns and executive residents at pharmacy associations in the DC area. As the only intern without a pharmacy background, I learned a lot about the pharmaceutical industry and profession. Plus, it was refreshing to spend two work days with people my own age!

Other than checking off my “DC To-Do List”, I added another interesting off-site meeting to my summer experience: I attended a NEHI Policymaker Roundtable with the NACDS Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy team. The discussion on medication adherence and transition care was very informative. It was great to learn about the different ideas on how different players in the healthcare industry plan to reduce hospital re-admissions and improve patient care.

Aside from my “field trips”, I continued to work on my long-term project and assisted the preparation for our upcoming Pharmacy and Technology Conference. As I continue to work on my long-term project, I am beginning to utilize the skills I learned in my Psychology Research Methods class at Cornell. Although the topic of my project was not in psychology, I found myself referring to the methods introduced in that class to systematically organize and synthesize my findings. To be honest, I did not expect my psychology classes to play such an active part during my fellowship at NACDS. As a rising senior, it is exciting to see how my college education prepares me with the skills to make valuable contributions in the workplace. The situations I encounter during my fellowship at NACDS make me more and more grateful for my liberal arts education.

Week 3: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

July 24th, 2012

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

It was another fun week filled with off-site meetings!

I attended a meeting at the American Pharmacist Association (APhA) Foundation with my boss and NACDS Foundation President, Kathleen Jaeger. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences of both foundations. I also learned about past collaborations between the two organizations in establishing Medication Therapy Management (MTM) together, which was recently upheld as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I also found it helpful to observe the mechanics of the meeting. I think students can learn a great deal from observing professionals in action because they have certain leadership skills and communication strategies that we don’t learn in the classroom. Such mentorship was one of the things I looked for in an internship program, and it definitely enriched my learning experience at NACDS.

I also attended the Senate Caucus on International Drug Narcotics Control. I was surprised to hear that one of the testimonies was regarding an incident in my home town, Laguna Niguel, CA. It was mind-boggling for me to learn that Orange County has the second biggest prescription drug abuse problems in the country. I lived there for so long and had no idea! The caucus truly opened my eyes to this epidemic and sparked my interest in what can be done to mitigate it.

Another informational meeting was the all-day ASAE Conference Education Session on the Essentials of Association Management. The participants were mid-level managers or higher, making me the youngest person in the room. I felt fortunate to have had an opportunity that most people my age do not get to experience. I learned about the values and different types of associations, along with different management strategies. The more I learned about association management, the more I can see myself working in the field in the future.

One of the greatest things about working for a trade association is the ability to network, which was also my favorite part of the meetings I attended. Networking is such a critical part of career development that students often overlook until we hit the “real” world. For this reason, I would like to share my colleague, Nick Dorich’s words of wisdom, “if you are not networking, you are NOT working”.

Week 2: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

July 17th, 2012

Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

I must begin this week’s blog by recognizing how amazing everyone is at NACDS. I started the week with a personal predicament and I could not be more grateful to have such supportive co-workers!

I also had lunch with the NACDS President and CEO, Steve Anderson, and we talked a lot about Cornell. I always find it great to hear what alumni have to say about their experiences as Cornell students and to reflect on how the Cornell community has changed and remained the same. Most importantly, I love hearing how Cornell has opened up doors for our alumni- giving me hope that similar doors would open up for me. Considering my experience this week, I think I can be optimistic (fingers-crossed!).

I attended two meetings in downtown DC, where I learned about two different yet overlapping hot topics in healthcare.

First, I attended the Health Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee Meeting, where I learned about the benefits and issues health providers faced in implementing Meaningful Use (MU), Long-Term and Post Acute Care (LTPAC) and other Electronic Health Records (EHR) incentive programs. Secondly, I attended a hearing at the Senate Committee of Finance about physicians Medicare reimbursements. I learned about physicians’ perspective on reimbursement models and the similarities/differences of issues faced by doctors in different states. The physicians and senators also discussed the difficulties to improve patient care in rural areas due to limited electronic patient records, which was also addressed at the HIT Meeting. An improved information exchange among health providers could not only improve patient care, but could also help simplify reimbursements for physicians because it would better maintain records of care, treatment, and progress. Both meetings exposed me to the critical role of EHR in quality health care.

I was also able to relate what I learned at the two meetings to what I learned about pharmacy and NACDS initiatives. In order to create an EHR system and programs that would truly benefit patients, pharmacists – just like other clinicians- need to be given better access to patient records; pharmacists are the face of neighborhood healthcare and most patients have more interaction with pharmacists than other clinicians .  The expansion of EHR would allow room for further implementation of Medication Therapy Management (MTM), which could increase the effectiveness of care and decrease health expenses. It was valuable to link what I have learned on-site at NACDS with related issues off-site.

This week was a busy time in the office as well. I was assigned my long-term project for the NACDS Foundation. The project challenges me to be creative in my research and gives me the opportunity to work with my colleagues in Legal and Human Resources. Once again, I am learning about the inter-department collaboration at NACDS; although this time, I am experiencing it first-hand. On top of my long-term project, I continued to balance smaller projects for Pharmacy Affairs and an assignment from the NACDS economist, Laura Miller. The multi-tasking lifestyle at Cornell helped me strategize my time so that I can make the most out of my projects and off-site meetings during my fellowship this summer.

Week 1: National Association of Chain Drug Stores

July 10th, 2012

4th of July Fireworks at Washington National Monument Fia Wulur ’13, Anderson Fellow in Public Affairs

I could not have picked a more perfect day to kick-off my fellowship at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS). On my first day, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act- one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions in history. Not only was it a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness an association’s strategy in dealing with a ruling that impacted its industry, it was inspiring to see the collaboration among different departments at NACDS in constructing a press release that aligned with the values of the organization. From day one, I knew that my time at NACDS was going to be a great learning experience.

Consistent with what I learned as a student at Cornell, getting out of my comfort zone was the best way to maximize my fellowship experience. I am working mainly with the Pharmacy Care and Patient Advocacy Department. At first, I was nervous to work with a group of predominantly pharmacists due to my limited knowledge about the pharmacy world. However, immersing myself in an unfamiliar field allowed me to learn something new every day.

My Cornell education definitely helped me adapt to the new environment. I was quickly assigned projects (a combination of research, advertising, and planning for upcoming conferences), which made me feel like a part of the Pharmacy team from the start. The Executive Resident, Evan Schnurr, and I worked together to complete a week-long project in two days. The fast-paced nature of OCAAT clearly prepared me to work efficiently at NACDS.

In addition to having a productive week at work, I had fun exploring Washington DC. I saw The Music Man at the Kennedy Center with my wonderful host family, visited Smithsonian museums, attended the Folklife Festival, window-shopped in Georgetown, and experienced the Independence Day celebration in our nation’s capital. I visited my good friend, Ginny Boyles, and joined the crowd on the National Mall for the beautiful 4th of July fireworks. The experience of watching the fireworks about 10 feet away from the Washington National Monument was worth the crowd madness and sweaty walks. Despite the record heat this summer, I cannot wait to explore more of what DC has to offer!

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