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The Right Prescription: Pharmacist Finds New Direction at the University of Sioux Falls

Oct 30, 2016 12:14PM ● By MED Magazine
By Alex Strauss

Erica Bukovich spent years working as a retail pharmacist before she began moving into the managed care space, first at Cigna and then at Health Management Partners, a Sioux Falls-based health management company.

“Most people think of a pharmacist as someone that they get their medicines from, but my role is different. I don’t dispense medicine,” explains Bukovich who works with nurses, health coaches and medical directors on the pharmaceutical aspects of case management as HMP’s Director of Pharmacy “There has been growth in roles like mine, but it is still less traditional.”

It was during her time at Cigna that Bukovich, a graduate of South Dakota State University’s pharmacy program, first heard about the University of Sioux Falls Healthcare MBA program and was curious.

“At Cigna, two of the pharmacists I worked with had gone through this program and I just really started to think that maybe it would be a good idea for me, too,” she says. “I was very, very well prepared for the clinical aspects of my pharmacy work. But when I started managing people, there were other aspects of my role that I thought the MBA might be beneficial.”

Bukovich entered the USF MBA program with a concentration in healthcare in September of 2015. Although it is typically a 2-year program, Bukovich says the school worked with her to come up with a way for her finish faster by taking a combination of live and online classes. As a result, Bukovich will finish her coursework this Fall and says the customization was just what she needed.

“Honestly, balancing work and a family and all the other aspects of my life, it just worked better for me to focus on this for a shorter period of time,” she says.

But the arrangement did more than just help Bukovich earn her MBA faster. As part of her healthcare cohort on campus, she was able to explore business issues unique to healthcare. At the same time, through her online classes - many of which were made up of students who were not in the healthcare industry - Bukovich says she gained valuable new perspectives, as well.

“I feel like this curriculum really prepared me for working with all kinds of people,” says Bukovich. “I still interact with people with varied backgrounds. My classes required us to collaborate and coordinate and that is exactly what I do in my work.”

“The professors understand that all of us work and they make a point to make things relevant ,” Bukovich adds. “There were so many times when we would discuss something in class and then I would go to work and something relevant would happen.”

In addition to supporting her continued personal development and understanding of the business aspects of her own job, Bukovich says her USF Healthcare MBA has given her the tools to be an even more valuable part of the management team.

“The program has made me better at presenting my ideas and contributing to our business strategy as we continue to grow and evolve our business,” says Bukovich. “I like being able to be part of that discussion.”