How to Get a PBM Job in 2016

Are you looking to leave the traditional path of retail or hospital pharmacy?

My first job as a pharmacist was working for Merck Medco in a mail-order pharmacy outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. We had more than 300 pharmacists (not counting pharmacy technicians and other staff) in the facility, and I got to meet a lot of different people.

There were 3 main groups of pharmacists working there at the time: recent grads, working mothers, and “retail burnouts”—pharmacists who would rather leave the profession than return to retail pharmacy.

Are you looking to leave the traditional path of retail or hospital pharmacy as a New Year’s resolution?

I’ve previously discussed the types of pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) jobs that are generally available. However, I've left the biggest question unanswered until now: how can you actually get one of these positions?

A good place to start is to determine if there are any PBMs operating in your area. Going to the “PBM directory” on the Pharmacy Benefit Management Institute (PBMI) website would be a good way to check.

PBMI is an organization that provides research and education on the design and management of drug benefit programs. Their directory is a convenient list of PBMs operating in the United States. You can visit each individual company’s website to see if they have job openings near you.

If your most recent pharmacist position has been in retail pharmacy, I recommend looking for a position where your retail experience would be valued. In my opinion, retail experience would translate well into mail-order or medication therapy management (MTM) roles.

If you’re looking to transfer from hospital pharmacy, my advice would be to explore positions in PBM specialty pharmacy, where your sterile compounding experience should prove useful.

If you are a pharmacy student, I recommend pursuing an internship at a PBM. Also, consider a managed care experiential rotation through your school. I’ve seen multiple young people jump-start their careers through a PBM or managed care residency.

Remember, your first PBM job won’t necessarily be your ideal role. However, getting your foot in the door is a key step in your career path.

I’ve seen retail and hospital pharmacists apply for niche PBM clinical jobs and get passed over because their job experience wasn’t relevant to the position. Determine which job is a good fit for your skills, and customize your resume accordingly.

If you’re looking for additional information, but not ready to make the jump to a PBM role yet, consider becoming a member of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP). It is a national professional association for pharmacists who work (or are interested) in managed care pharmacy. They also offers student memberships.