AMCP Foundation Volunteer Spotlight: Bill Francis
Originally published in the February 2021 AMCP Foundation Insights e-newsletter.
Volunteers are important members of the AMCP Foundation team. We caught up with Bill Francis to get his thoughts on the value of volunteering.
My introduction to the AMCP began in 1994 shortly after my employer, Eckerd Drug Company, invited me to transition from a retail pharmacy operations role to their Managed Care Group. With little experience in managed care pharmacy, I was faced with a large knowledge gap. A coworker suggested that I attend an upcoming AMCP conference in Boston. The educational content from the meeting gave me the beginning foundation I needed to become effective in my new position. What was unexpected was the wonderful conversations and interactions with other attendees. Most were outgoing and willing to share their managed care story and offer suggestions on the conference programming I might find most beneficial.
I was introduced to the work of the AMCP Foundation in 1999. At that time, I was an AMCP Diplomat for my alma mater, the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. There was little emphasis then on managed care pharmacy in the school curriculum and I was looking for ways to fill that gap. I saw that the Foundation’s focus on helping managed care pharmacists better meet patient needs through access to solid evidence-based information and training was something that could compliment student pharmacist’s studies and prepare them for future careers.
I did not realize it at the time but exposure to and learning about the world of managed care pharmacy during those early years would change my career path. The education and training I received through AMCP and the Foundation over the last 24 years helped me build the skills needed for the work I love.
AMCP Foundation brought that managed care pharmacy education and training to a higher level for me through the poster program, the P&T Competition and the Summer Intern Program. Most importantly are all of the esteemed and wonderful people I have met through this association who mentored and encouraged me on this journey.
What interested you in becoming a volunteer?
Over the first few years of attending AMCP conferences — primarily to learn more about managed care pharmacy — I became friends with some AMCP members and AMCP staff. I found it amazing that so many of those members served or had served on various committees or helped with different programs. All of them encouraged me to explore the opportunities to serve the membership or support the mission.
My pharmacy college did not provide very much focus on managed care and I was interested in ways to bring awareness of our “specialty” to student pharmacists. AMCP had a new initiative, the Diplomat Program, where an AMCP member was assigned to be a liaison to a specific pharmacy school with the goal to build interest in managed care pharmacy via bringing information and programs to the students. Participating in that program was my first volunteer experience.
My interest in advancing educational and training opportunities for student pharmacists drew me to AMCP Foundation’s Internship program. A summer of real-world managed care pharmacy experience where the student pharmacist would actually contribute to improving patient health outcomes is beyond price. AMCP Foundation was looking for help to review student applications for this program. I inquired, “Where do I sign up?”
What was your experience with your first volunteer opportunity with AMCP Foundation? What value do you think you gained from that experience?
My first experience as an AMCP Foundation Intern Application Reviewer was over 15 years ago. Shortly after volunteering and learning about the intern program, in the fall of that year, I received two massive binders on the mail with over 70 student pharmacist applications for one of a dozen places in the program. I remember spending a very long weekend reviewing every application. Each applicant had to write a description (in essay form) of a managed care project they would like to engage in. Volume of information aside, I purposed to read each application thoroughly ensuring that I put in as much effort reading the application and the required managed care pharmacy project essays as the students did in writing them. Over the years the volunteers helped Foundation improve the application. I worked with two colleagues to revise the application and scoring rubric. I assisted in writing the now standard annual essay question for many years.
One of the things that kept me engaged as a volunteer was the depth of knowledge many student pharmacists displayed in their applications. Some of the essays took my breath away in the thought that obviously went into their responses. Ten years ago, while attending a student reception, I overheard a student pharmacist tell a friend how the AMCP Foundation Intern program he participated in previous summer had completely changed his life and his planned future career path. That overheard testimonial made every minute I volunteered worthwhile.
Why should someone become a volunteer?
There are many reasons why you should become an AMCP Foundation volunteer. At one level it is the opportunity to give back to our profession. At another it benefits us directly as we learn from each other and develop new skills and experiences. But mostly it is simply to make a difference to the people around us. Twenty-four years ago, some AMCP members reached out to me and changed my professional life.
There are many reasons why you should become a AMCP Foundation volunteer. Foremost is the opportunity to participate in the education and training of future managed care pharmacists. The role of managed care pharmacists is expanding and the need for managed care pharmacists possessing the necessary skill sets will grow as well. Many AMCP Foundation program volunteers come away feeling that the experience helps them become better pharmacists. But mostly it is simply to make a difference to the people around us and the ones they encounter.