Quality Forum Review: Careers and Professional Opportunities in Quality

The PQA Quality Forum Webinar is a regular, recurring series on healthcare quality topics with a focus on medication use and medication services. It is a forum for educating and engaging with PQA members and quality-focused healthcare professionals. 

The September 15, 2022, PQA Quality Forum Webinar welcomed Cassie Bobbitt, MPH, Marybeth Farquhar, PhD, MSN, Hannah Lee-Brown PharmD, RPh, CPHQ and Nicolette Mehas, PharmD to discuss their professional journeys in health care quality.

Mehas currently serves as Senior Director of Emerging Initiatives at NQF. She opened the conversation by explaining her current role and her exposure to NQF as a PQA Executive Fellow. As a fellow, she gained experience in developing a framework for medication access and measure use and fostering leadership skills related to association management. Naturally, this served as a bridge to her current role. She endorses measures by working with public and private sectors and external stakeholders to assess and promote quality across many topics.

Lee-Brown, the Director of Pharmacy Benefits at Healthfirst, was also a former PQA fellow who now uses quality in her role to ensure equitable benefits are developed and implemented so everyone can achieve the same positive health outcomes. In addition, she has experience in policy making and strategic oversight of Medicare Part D and Medicaid plans. Lee-Brown shares this managed care expertise to students in her other position an Adjunct Faculty at Touro College of Pharmacy.  

Pharmacists are not the only ones shaping the quality landscape. Bobbitt, Director of Clinical Quality Analytics at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield, began her journey working in a retail pharmacy before she received her master’s in public health. In her current role, she collects and analyzes data to determine how the plan can improve member outcomes by using quality measures.

Farquhar, Executive Vice President, Research, Quality & Scientific Affairs at American Urological Association, began her career as a nurse but quickly realized she wanted to be able to reach more people. While working towards her PhD in Public Administration and Public Policy, Farquhar began working at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), where her journey in quality really started.  From there, she worked with various other quality key players like URAC, NQF and federal agencies to develop patient safety and education initiatives. In her current role at AUA, she continues to engage in quality improvement and research programs.

The panelists shared some key tips and insights to jumpstart your career in quality for students and recent graduates. All four panelists agreed that networking was key to their career success, each connected to PQA and other quality leaders alike through forming professional connections. Farquhar expressed expanding your network to quality organizations and federal programs to get involved in research and make new contacts in these positions.

Lee-Brown emphasized, “…the best thing you can in your career is talk to people” elaborating that everyone is willing to share their experiences to help you grow professionally. Mehas added that having clinical experience and on-the ground exposure can be beneficial in quality improvement.  While Bobbitt highly recommended students learn programming languages if they are interested in data collection and analysis.

Within the quality realm, there are endless professional opportunities and careers. This non-traditional pathway allows for transferable skills and flexibility, whether you want to work for a health plan, drug company, public sector and more. Although capable of one-on-one patient interactions, the group agreed that they sought to impact more patient lives by interfacing with quality.

You can listen to the full recording of this Quality Forum Webinar, a one-hour presentation with audience Q&A, on PQA’s YouTube channel. PQA members can access the presentation slides in the Member Resources Library

Katherine Tieu, a Class of 2023 Doctor of Pharmacy student from University of Maryland, Baltimore, is a PQA Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience student.

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