Q&A with PQA Executive Fellow Alexis Caronis

Alexis Caronis is the 2021-22 PQA Executive Fellow. She is a PharmD graduate from the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy. Caronis joined PQA June 1 and has hit the ground running with support for PQA's social determinants of health initiatives and student programs.  

What drew you to PQA and the Executive Fellowship program?

As long as I can remember, I have always focused on the future. As it relates to healthcare, the future I envision is centered around value-based, high-quality care for all patients. I was drawn to PQA because its work defines and measures quality care through consensus-based and transparent processes. The Executive Fellowship program will allow me to better understand the quality landscape and help me develop as a professional through strategic mentoring and learning experiences that are catered to my career goals. PQA’s collaborative nature allows me the unique opportunity to work with amazing, passionate individuals to advance the quality of medication use at a national level.

What are your goals for your fellowship this year?

My goals this year involve two key areas – education and convening. In addition to continuing my own education, I want to support the education of all healthcare professionals and students about the quality landscape and how to optimize safe medication use. Furthermore, I am focused on sharing what I learn and the impact of PQA’s work so that all stakeholders in healthcare can understand and advance the value of pharmacies and pharmacist-provided services.


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?

This year, PQA is working on a social determinants of health (SDOH) resource guide documenting real-world SDOH services, including screening, referring, or intervening, conducted by or involving pharmacists or pharmacies. I will help identify and summarize these initiatives to create an educational tool for healthcare professionals that provides ideas and examples of SDOH services they can implement. Additionally, through educational offerings, including the Medication Use Quality continuing education program and intern and APPE programs, I hope to educate other healthcare professionals and students about how quality impacts their role.

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

Quality can seem abstract and distant from some pharmacist and student jobs, but all pharmacists and pharmacy students have the potential to make a positive impact on the quality of care their patients receive. I hope that every student will build knowledge that will allow them to articulate what high-quality patient care looks like in their practice setting, identify areas where the quality of care can be improved and know which resources to utilize to implement a quality improvement project.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years?

I hope to be working in a role focused on advancing the profession of pharmacy and promoting high-quality patient services. Throughout my career, I desire to identify and highlight the incredible work being done by others within the pharmacy field. Through that work, my goals are to create tangible ways for others to sustainably implement services within their practice setting and to provide data that will help transform healthcare to value-based models.

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 are many individuals who inspire me on a daily basis, including the incredible staff at PQA who have taught me so much already and will continue to do so throughout my career. I first would like to thank all the individuals who have impacted me thus far; the time and effort you dedicated to me is greatly appreciated. Second, I want to share a few of my biggest influences thus far.

Beginning with pharmacy school, Donna Walker, Kathy Quarles Moore and Stephen J. Cutler, are three individuals who inspire me to mentor the next generation of pharmacists. They have shown me how to engage in innovative ways of teaching, and how to effectively utilize a group of individuals with a shared passion to make a difference in a community. They demonstrate how to lead future generations of pharmacists through the care and dedication they provide to students.

Patti Fabel, also at the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy, is another one. Through her diverse roles in the college, including being my professor, my preceptor, and a Board Member for the Walker Leadership Scholars program, I have gained invaluable knowledge regarding how to advocate and inspire others to advocate for the pharmacy profession. Through her work in the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center, she taught me the importance of entrepreneurial skills needed to develop and implement new pharmacy services and models through collaborative efforts, which I believe will continue to be instrumental in advancing the pharmacy profession. 

Outside of pharmacy school, Ashlee Hayes is a pharmacist and career strategist, who I admire for her ability to effectively communicate her value. She has built a career helping others communicate their professional value, so they can make the impact they desire. Because of her passion and influence, I hope to focus on helping identify and build value propositions for individual pharmacists and students, as well as pharmacies and their services.

And of course, Micah Cost, PQA’s CEO. Micah’s leadership in the pharmacy profession, and at PQA, will help drive innovation and pharmacy practice advancement, specifically in the quality landscape. In the future, I hope to emulate his charismatic, inclusive leadership style to improve the quality of pharmacy services.

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

I was born and raised in Charlotte, N.C., where the state dance is Shag Dance. It is a type of swing dance that is local to the Southeast region. My grandparents began teaching me how to shag dance when I was 10 years old, and I have continued to shag dance since then. During pharmacy school, I participated in shag dance competitions with my grandfather – as the first ever grandfather and granddaughter partners – and have been an active member in the Competitive Shaggers Association for the last four years.

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