5 Quick Tips: Navigating An Apexus Residency Experience, Virtually
By: Ginikannwa Ezeude, PharmD
PGY2 Health-System Pharmacy Administration and Leadership (HSPAL) Resident
Master of Healthcare Administration Candidate
Having been privileged to complete the Apexus PGY2 residency elective rotation this August 2020 as a part of my main HSPAL residency, I can confidently say that I gained unique exposure and deeper understanding in a number of areas. I grew deeply in areas like 340B operations & regulatory compliance as well as supply chain management with targeted insights into supplier and distributor contracting strategies, much to the satisfaction of my intended goals for the rotation. Additionally, being able to connect with varying members of the Apexus Team and to contribute to meaningful projects within the organization was also fulfilling. That being said it wasn’t easy adjusting to the rotation being a virtual experience in the face of the current Sars-CoV2 global pandemic. I would be remiss if I didn’t share some key tips for any resident considering completing this rotation during this capricious time. Navigating virtual experiences, in general, is quickly becoming the new normal these days and when executed properly one can still make great gains! So, let’s begin:
1. Make sure you have steady internet connection!
As expected with a virtual experience, all of your interactions will be via Teams or Skype. You don’t want the flow of your meetings, message alerts, or quality of your interactions with the leadership team to be compromised by your lack of steady internet connection. As such, be sure to determine how and where your work set up will be ahead of time.
2. Select your workspace wisely!
a. This piggybacks off tip #1 – you need to be strategic and practical with your workspace selection. The rotation allows for you to work from the comfort of your home, as many of the Apexus Team members does so. However, if you are in a situation where you don’t live alone at home and distractions are present or you simply are not productive at home, then you need to find an external workspace. You may opt to work at your normal desk space at your health-system. Keep in mind though, that you are on a separate rotation that requires your attention, time, focus and delivery; you don’t want to run the risk of being seen by your hospital team daily to the point where they forget you are engaging in a virtual experience and then try to pull you into other on-site related tasks. This perception of being “available” comes with its own set of distractions. In situations like this, I found that working from a neutral workspace in another location within the hospital was optimal. I had steady internet connection, triple screens, and a minimal distraction zone. This may not be feasible depending on the nuances of your health-system’s geography, but it is worth looking into.
3. Be prepared to shuffle between two different laptops; Find ways of streamlining your health-system longitudinal responsibilities and that of Apexus.
a. Now, while I made mention previously about trying to avoid getting pulled into on-site hospital related tasks, you cannot avoid your normal HSPA longitudinal and residency tasks. You may still have routine meetings that you are required to attend on some days and having two laptops – one mailed to you from Apexus and your home residency laptop – it may get tricky lugging both of these around in order to keep track of everything. Find a process that works for you to streamline your residency calendar and your Apexus calendars so that you aren’t missing anything and at the same time not getting overwhelmed.
4. Be weary of scheduling meetings back to back, even though you’re virtual.
It’s tempting to want to maximize learning opportunities by scheduling virtual meetings back to back in a day. However, even though you are virtual and you don't need time in between meetings to physically travel from one meeting location to the next, you will still need time to digest the information received from each meeting. You are a learner in this setting and having as little as 15 minutes between meetings can be helpful to gather your thoughts, organize your notes, grab a snack, etc.
5. Make the rotation personable by turning on your camera as much as you can (where appropriate).
The gap between virtual experiences and in-person experiences can be significantly reduced by simply having your camera on during meetings (especially small-to-medium sized meetings) in order to increase face-to-name familiarity. For this reason, it is important – as the future pharmacy leader that you are – to maintain a professional presence, countenance, and appearance as much as possible. While the Apexus Team may be a bit more laid back when it comes to this that does not mean you should completely mirror that. At the end of the day, every rotation experience – virtual or not – is an extended interview process and you want to make a good impression in multiple ways as there is no telling what your future career path holds. There is no need for formal suit and tie attire, but at the very least try to look somewhat put together, even if you are tuning in from the comfort of your own home.
To sum, the growth and development opportunities at Apexus are endless. Do not allow a virtual experience to limit you or prevent you from maximizing your gains. These tips do not negate the normal benefits that come with exposing one-self to 340B at their home health-system, learning about supply chain and the different account types, as well as completing Apexus’ 340B OnDemand modules prior to the rotation starting! The 4-weeks do fly by quickly and the more of a foundation you have coming into it, the more quickly you’ll be able to assimilate and dive deeper into projects and discussions as they arise!