Q&A with PQA Executive Fellow Chris Kotschevar

Chris Kotschevar is the 2020-21 PQA Executive Fellow. He is a PharmD graduate from South Dakota State University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions. Kotschevar joined PQA in June and has hit the ground running, helping to finalize and launch projects such as PQA’s Medication Use Quality continuing education and certificate program and the Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge.  

What drew you to PQA and the Executive Fellowship program?

“There were a lot of different things that drew me. From a very high level, I was looking for an opportunity to have a big-picture impact on healthcare delivery, especially as it relates to pharmacy. PQA offered a concrete way to impact how healthcare is delivered through a focus on quality measurement. I wanted to apply what I had learned in school over the last six years on a larger scale. I believe healthcare will continue to push further into the value-based setting and value-based system, especially when it comes to aspects like reimbursement. PQA had established the necessary concrete steps for me to learn a lot within this realm.”

What are your goals for your fellowship this year?

“I have three overarching buckets – education, association, and dissemination. When it comes to education, I’m looking to grow in my ability to apply ideas in a format that can help educate others. I look at the Medication Use Quality continuing education program as the first key example of a project that I’ve been able to work on regarding quality. Education is a huge passion of mine. In the coming year, I’m looking to educate students, patients, professionals, and others about the impact that pharmacy has and about how we continue to adapt that to provide better patient care.

Being a part of PQA as a pharmacy association, I look to grow my knowledge in association management and learn the ins and outs of working as a member-based organization. I’m striving to learn what it means to work on behalf of our members, take their input and put it into practice with what we’re doing on a daily basis here at PQA.

When it comes to dissemination, I look to grow my abilities in communicating the great things that PQA is doing on a daily basis out to the masses, so they’re able to implement in their practice different things that we develop. This might include looking at research or technical writing and development as well as other writing and presentation opportunities that will come up throughout the year. Ultimately, I’m working to make sure that folks know what PQA is up to and ways that it applies to them.”


About the
PQA Postdoctoral Fellowship

PQA’s Postdoctoral Executive Fellowship is year-long program that offers doctoral-degree graduates invaluable experience engaging with PQA stakeholders across healthcare, including community pharmacies, health plans, health systems, associations, life science organizations, and more. PQA Executive Fellows gain experience in non-profit administration, association management and project management – and have opportunities to conduct healthcare quality research and participate in quality measure design and implementation.

PQA’s Executive Fellowship has developed:

- a Director of Quality Measurement with National Quality Forum,
- a Medicare Part D Star Ratings Advisor with CVS Health,
- a Program Manager with Humana,
- an Associate Director of Research and Academic Affairs with PQA, and
- Other experts serving in exemplary positions.

Is there a specific initiative you’re tackling or an area where you’re looking to make a particular mark?

“I know I alluded to it earlier, but education is a big focus and a big passion of mine. I’m working with the Medication Use Quality continuing education and certificate program. We’re looking at potential development of new content and electives within that. I’m also working with the Healthcare Quality Innovation Challenge (HQIC), which is an annual student-based competition. The goal is to grow all of these areas and programs throughout the year and to continue to adapt them. We’re hoping to garnish some better participation within HQIC especially this year. Overall, I hope to leave a mark and continue to improve the ways we engage with our members on a regular basis.”

As a recent PharmD program graduate, what do today’s students need to know about quality?

“It’s hard to narrow down the “need-to-know”. I would emphasize that quality impacts anything and everything that pharmacists do whether it’s directly or indirectly. Pharmacists can have such a huge impact on the quality of care that’s provided. We can improve patient outcomes and provide better quality care when the patient is the core focus of what we’re doing. As a student, often times the term quality seemed very nebulous and hard to hold on to. But when it’s broken down to its core level, it’s simply providing the best care possible to a patient in order to help them achieve their optimal health outcomes. Pharmacists should be a part of providing that great patient care on a daily basis. I encourage students, as you move into your professional career, to look for ways to improve the processes you use in order to improve the care you provide patients.”

Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

“Professionally, engaging with a larger healthcare system in a quality improvement capacity is where I want to be. That could be directly working for them or working with an organization that is able to work with healthcare systems as well. But engaging with professionals and/or patients and adapting to a value-based reimbursement system is my big-picture goal. That can take shape in a lot of different ways. It can come from research, the education side, as well as from an implementation side of quality metrics or any combination of those. I continue to look for opportunities and am open to a lot of things right now. But as far as five years down the road, working with a healthcare system would be ideal.”

As you look at the pharmacy profession and the field of quality improvement, who are the leaders you hope to follow or emulate in your own career?

“There’s too many to name that have had an impact on me previously. Lisa Buss Preszler and Garrett Schramm are two leaders. They both work within pharmacy education at Mayo Clinic. I look to them for how they’ve applied pharmacy education in the healthcare setting and branching it out beyond what we have traditionally thought of to where we can have leaders in that area.

Ann Byre, with Allina Health, is another one. She was a preceptor of mine. She has shown exemplary leadership and transformation throughout her career and continues to do so in the way that she currently leads within Allina Health. The lasting impact that she had on me was demonstrating the way that you can take one part of your career that you’ve had previously and apply it to other opportunities on the horizon. She’s a shining example of that.

Dan Hansen is the current Interim Dean at South Dakota State University. I admire the impact and care that he has for students. He is a large reason that I look forward to leading in the future, potentially teaching students. The care that you have for students and shaping the future of pharmacy through shaping students is really impactful.

Duane Wallace works in a rural setting in Minnesota and has for his whole career. He has shown me what it looks like to truly apply your career to the community that you’re serving, and more specifically serving in a community through a pharmacist role.

And then Laura Cranston as well. Her leadership in the profession as a whole, her continued drive to innovate and push us towards something bigger and better than we’ve ever known within pharmacy and impact patient care is huge. She’s somebody that I certainly look up to and hope to at least in part emulate in the future.”

Tell us something interesting about yourself that’s not work related.

“I love to downhill ski. My favorite thing in the whole world is being on the ski slopes. I’m really looking forward to a post-COVID ski trip, potentially to the Northeast now that I’ve moved to Virginia. Having the opportunity to ski up in the New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire areas will be something that’s new for me. I’m really looking forward to it.”

This Q&A was conducted by Cameron Wilson, a rising senior and strategic communications major at Elon University. Wilson is PQA’s inaugural Washington Health Industry Communications Internship program participant.

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