Intern Alumna Spotlight: Annie (Rakoczy) Schuster
Over the past 27 years, nearly 200 student pharmacists have taken part in our summer internships. We're pleased to highlight our intern alumni in this reoccurring feature.
Name: Annie (Rakoczy) Schuster, PharmD
Current Title: Senior Director, Clinical Pharmacy Programs, Cigna
Internship Program: AMCP Foundation/Pfizer Managed Care Summer Internship
Internship Site: Benescript Services, Norcross, GA
Annie Rakoczy Schuster, PharmD, leads Cigna’s Medicare and Medicaid health plan clinical pharmacy programs, which encompass pharmacy and medical benefit drug management, as well as pharmacy quality improvement programs to optimize medication therapy. Her team includes talented individuals who partner to make health care more affordable, predictable, and simple for members, including pharmacists who connect with members and providers over the phone or who are embedded in large provider offices.
Annie has 15 years of experience in the health care industry and is the residency program director for the Cigna PGY1 Managed Care Pharmacy Residency Program. She recently served as chair of the AMCP Professional Practice committee and is presently serving on AMCP’s Educational Affairs committee. She is also the AMCP Diplomat for Belmont University. Annie received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, completed a residency at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, and currently resides in Franklin, Tenn.
What does a typical day look like?
I manage many different teams, collaborate with my medical team counterparts, and partner across the pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and health plan segments to advance initiatives and programs to accomplish our goals. These teams are located around the country, and our work involves both solution and strategy sessions and ensuring we share regular updates to keep everyone informed. That means I’m in a lot of meetings! Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m now working from home every day and that allows me to refill my coffee cup and hug my kids while keeping my phone on mute during some of those calls!
What types of managed care practices do you use in your work?
Health care is complex and managed care pharmacists are in the unique position of ensuring that the pharmacy benefit centers on each patient and that we collaborate across the array of health care services to address various patient needs that arise. As a result, my team leverages formulary and utilization management strategies, medication therapy management, opioid stewardship, real-time benefit checks, preferred pharmacy networks, adherence and quality measure improvement strategies, value-based arrangements – you name it, we likely use it to improve the health, well-being, and peace of mind of those we serve.
How did the AMCP Foundation internship prepare you for your career?
My internship allowed me to gain practical experience to supplement what I was learning in pharmacy school and from the UIC AMCP Student Chapter. I learned from other leaders. I tried my best and asked for feedback. I course-corrected when I noticed things weren’t going well. All of these practical experiences helped me land a residency and further prepared me for a role in the dynamic field of managed care pharmacy at a fast-paced, innovative global health services company. I love how I get to do many different things in my role, and it all started with an internship that provided an array of experiences under great leaders.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My advice for pharmacy students is to place importance on building a positive network of colleagues both in school and with leaders in careers you aspire towards. Keep up with your key contacts and foster those relationships. I value my AMCP connections formed with students at other schools, as well as managed care professionals who spent time with me at AMCP conferences. These friendships have meant a lot professionally and personally.
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Originally published in the August 2020 AMCP Foundation Insights e-newsletter.