An Inside Look at the PGY2 Rotation at Apexus

Minh Hoang, PharmD, MPHBy Minh Hoang, PharmD, MPH
Pharmacy Resident
Penobscot Community Health Care
Bangor, Maine
October 2018

It was a crisp fall day when this New England girl left Maine to embark on a month-long adventure in Texas for the 340B Operations PGY2 Rotation with Apexus. I was extremely nervous. So many thoughts raced through my head on my flight down to the Lone Star State:

“Do I know enough about 340B to perform well on this rotation?”

“Will I be able to adapt to such different day-to-day expectations?”

“How will I survive a whole month without a familiar face?”

Being at Apexus put me in a working environment of which I had had very little exposure: there are no scrubs, no exam room—just writable walls that are full of projects, ideas, and plans. I instantly felt myself longing for familiarities as I sat down at my desk for the first time at Apexus, waiting for IT to come set up my computer. I missed my patients, who filled my heart with warmth when they told me how much they would miss me while I’m in Texas. I missed the cheery medical assistants and patient service representatives who could always put a smile on my face on the most stressful of days every time I passed them in the hallways. I even missed my slow HP work computer.

However, all the homesickness quickly eased away with the warm greetings I received from the Apexus employees. Soon my nervousness was replaced with excitement as I learned more and more about the 340B Program and Apexus’ role in assisting all 340B stakeholders in maintaining program integrity while also expanding access to affordable medications. Everyone was as enthusiastic about teaching me the processes and workflows at the office as they were curious about me and how I felt about Texas, coming from Maine; they quickly made me feel like part of the team. Our sweet executive assistant had organized a full schedule in advance for my entire four-week rotation. I had one-on-one time with each team lead, during which they reviewed the responsibilities their team carries within the organization and the projects they were working on at the time. I was invited to join team meetings, where, although I could not fully comprehend all the contents, I always walked away with something I could apply to a future leadership role, be it setting meeting dynamics, establishing structures, or seeing how the members of the team interact and discuss agreements/disagreements with one another.

It was clear that my experience was customized to maximize my learning. I looked forward to my shadowing time in the Apexus Answers Call Center with the 340B specialists every week, as I knew I was going to learn a lot thanks to the specialists’ wealth of knowledge on 340B laws and regulations, and their ability to explain everything in such easy-to-understand manners. Coming from a small, federally qualified health center (FQHC), I wasn’t just curious about what other FQHCs in the country are doing with their 340B programs, but also what 340B operations look like at other entity types. My curiosity translated into hundreds of questions on endless hypothetical scenarios, and the specialists welcomed every single one of them. I also loved the Leadership series, recently implemented and led by Apexus’ Vice President of 340B Policy and Compliance. During the sessions, I got to discuss my approach to potential difficult situations at work and my leadership style in general. I was delighted to learn to appreciate different leadership and personality styles, as well as how to effectively lead a diverse team and embrace the uniqueness of each team member. This series truly inspired me to give back to later generations of pharmacy leaders in similar forms of sincere mentorship.

On top of all the learning on 340B and leadership, I also learned to never forget to have fun. Apexus employees do not just share the same mission and vision; they also share laughter and care for each other. The Apexus culture is one that I hope to be able to create and maintain everywhere I go in my future careers. Birthdays never go undetected, and the teams take time at their regular all staff meetings to celebrate each others’ successes and individual kudos awards.

As October flew by, I was surprised to find myself not so eager to return home to Maine just yet. There was still so much to learn, and I was going to miss working with the people from whom I have learned so much. I was excited, however, to bring all the newly acquired 340B knowledge back to my home site and be close to direct patient care again. Since coming home, the insights I can provide thanks to my learning experience at Apexus have proven invaluable to our 340B committee, and I look forward to keeping in touch with Apexus from a covered entity–Prime Vendor relationship perspective.

Until the next 340B University, team!

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