In 2014, HealthTrust established the nation’s first corporate-based training program for future pharmacy leaders that provides early career exposure to critical business functions, value-based purchasing and the economic realities of modern medicine, including better management of limited healthcare resources.

The pharmacy profession has been short on qualified leaders for some time now, particularly when it comes to non-clinical functions such as budget planning, financial reporting, and negotiating contracts for required medicines, machines and instruments. Training of this type is absent from doctorate-level curriculums as well as healthcare administration residency programs focused more on facility-based operations and management. By default, leadership positions tend to be filled by either the most senior clinician willing to jump into the role or someone with managerial experience in another field entirely.

The only way to truly understand how pharmaceutical products get sourced and strategic business decisions are reached is to spend time working in a corporate healthcare environment. With that in mind, HealthTrust launched a Corporate Pharmacy Leadership Program in 2014 to help address the deficit. The one-of-a-kind program trains potential pharmacy leaders early in their career by placing them in residence for one year at HealthTrust’s headquarters in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Through HealthTrust’s clinical advisory board process, residents have the opportunity to interact with corporate pharmacy, nursing, laboratory and radiology leaders from member hospitals―mirroring the type of inter-departmental exchanges that happen on the committee level at those institutions. They also gain experience working with pharmacy suppliers engaged in the RFP process and live demonstration of their product features and value.

This year’s academically accomplished resident is Bradley Bruce, who earned his pharmacy degree at the University of Missouri, did his PGY-1 studies at Henry Ford Hospital and is currently working on an MBA from the University of Michigan at Flint. In addition to his involvement with the advisory boards, he helps manage clinical initiatives of HealthTrust Pharmacy Services, including biosimilars and antimicrobial stewardship, as well as review pharmacy-related educational programs being presented at the annual HealthTrust University Conference & Vendor Fair. Bradley will also be getting valuable one-on-one time with HealthTrust members and suppliers while manning Pharmacy’s booth at the vendor fair and during post-conference meetings.

Bradley has joined an accelerated version of HealthTrust’s Leadership Development Program, which includes public speaking opportunities, a personality assessment, “HR101” classes and dialogues with key executives. On a monthly basis, he meets with the company’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Sourcing Jocelyn Bradshaw to discuss various management topics. This is in addition to fulfilling his required teaching responsibilities as a contracted employee of the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy, completing research on the impact of pharmacy supplier consolidation on drug costs, and elective rotations at a local hospital where he works side-by-side with pharmacy automation and informatics specialists.

The broad view is that Bradley is learning about value-based purchasing and the economic realities of modern healthcare. He is also sure to benefit from the unique networking opportunities within this growing total cost management organization and its member healthcare systems that include some of the nation’s largest and most accomplished IDNs. The Corporate Pharmacy Leadership Program is currently under review to become accredited by the American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists (ASHP), certifying that it meets established standards and criteria for residency training programs.

And maybe, just maybe, the program will inspire others like it, helping to ensure healthcare’s limited resources are properly managed, more hospitals stay open and patients everywhere receive the best possible care.

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Marcus Dortch

Marcus Dortch, PharmD, is senior director of Clinical Pharmacy Services for HealthTrust and assistant professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, where he received his doctorate. He completed residency training at Detroit Medical Center before joining Vanderbilt Medical Center as a clinical pharmacy specialist. Dortch has authored numerous manuscripts on hyperglycemia of critical illness, antimicrobial stewardship and prevention of healthcare-associated infections. He is a fellow with the American College of Critical Care Medicine. More Articles by This Author »