Taking on AMCP Nexus: A First-Time Conference Experience

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers November 2016

As one of Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy’s two annual conventions, AMCP Nexus aims to provide in-depth educational programming on the current advances and challenges in managed care.

As members of the Rutgers University chapter of the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP), we recently had the opportunity to attend AMCP Nexus, a major pharmacy convention held in National Harbor, MD. As one of AMCP’s two annual conventions, Nexus aims to provide in-depth educational programming on the current advances and challenges in managed care.

In the past, our student chapter had only sent a few students each year to national conventions, and so we looked to Nexus as an opportunity to expand our horizons with the encouragement of our faculty advisors.

Preparing for the Trip

We first tackled the planning and logistics of the trip, completing budgeting and booking our hotel rooms as soon as the early bird registration opened. Fortunately, National Harbor is within reasonable driving distance of Rutgers, a factor that motivated us to attend.

In order to be fully prepared for the conference, we made sure to research the list of events and programs, aided by a very sophisticated smartphone app offered by AMCP that allowed us to navigate through hotel maps and view speaker schedules in advance. As the conference drew closer, we discussed which programs would benefit us and our student chapter.

One surprising concern that we faced while preparing was deciding what to pack. We wanted to proudly represent Rutgers in professional attire, but it was difficult to gauge what the professionals around us might wear and which shoes would be suitable yet comfortable enough for a full day of conference activities. In the end, we erred on the side of caution and chose to dress in business professional attire, which turned out to be the correct choice.

When it came to packing, we also had to plan which accessories to bring, including bags, writing utensils, and business cards. The convention provided nice canvas bags for carrying papers and brochures, but we also saw women carrying medium-sized totes and men carrying messenger bags. Most of the attendees, including students, also carried business cards. By the second night, our collection of business cards had grown to a decent size, and proved to be very helpful in writing follow-up emails to professionals and staying in touch with students from other chapters.

Arriving at Nexus

Walking into the convention center, the atmosphere of warmth and excitement within the venue immediately made us feel welcome. Signs clearly directed us to the various rooms of the Nexus convention, which helped to steer us away from the several other conventions being held simultaneously in the same building.

We attended a meet-and-greet session for student pharmacists, where we discovered that some pharmacy schools routinely encourage students to attend national conventions. Over 40 student pharmacists from the University of Maryland were in attendance, and 6 students had traveled down from the newly formed AMCP chapter at Touro College of Pharmacy in New York.

The educational seminars were split into several different series based on areas of interest: “The Basics of Key Managed Care Pharmacy Topics,” “Drugs, Diseases and the Managed Care Impact,” “The Evolving Health Care Environment,” “Current Aspects in Specialty Pharmacy Management,” and “Putting Managed Care Pharmacy Research to Work.” As students, we focused on lectures from “The Basics” series and learned about topics such as risk sharing between payers and pharmaceutical companies, outcomes-based contracting, and evaluating value-assessment frameworks. The sessions were geared toward professionals in a variety of backgrounds with different aptitudes, so we found the lectures to be not only educational, but accessible, as well.

Outside of the seminars, we also found opportunities to learn at the daily poster sessions, morning group yoga, the residency showcase, and even during meals. On the Nexus website, it was suggested that attendees try to sit with an unfamiliar face at lunch. While this sounded daunting, the environment at the convention facilitated networking and made meeting new people easy and stimulating. We found that all of the attendees, professionals and students alike, were extremely willing to greet one another, talk about their backgrounds and ideas, and listen receptively. The discussions in all of these structured and unstructured forums motivated us to think about what new goals we could reach, both as individuals and as an AMCP student chapter.

Our Takeaways

The AMCP Nexus convention was a perfect way for students to begin exploring their future careers beyond the insulated academic bubble of pharmacy school. As first-time conference attendees, we arrived slightly apprehensive about mingling among professionals and meeting so many strangers. but we soon found ourselves incorporated into the midst of the conference, where we learned, exchanged ideas, and had fun. Based on our experience at Nexus, we encourage our fellow pharmacy students to step up and take on future convention opportunities.

Ginny Li is a 2018 PharmD candidate at the Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the P&T coordinator for the Rutgers University AMCP Chapter.

Soham Shukla is a 2019 PharmD candidate at the Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the president-elect of the Rutgers University AMCP Chapter.

Jenny Shan is a 2018 PharmD candidate at the Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, and the president of the Rutgers University AMCP Chapter.

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