Meet Nikita Patton, a Pharmacist at CoverMyMeds’ Program Pharmacy
As a pharmacist at CoverMyMeds’ program pharmacy, Nikita Patton provides specialty medications for patients with complex disease states, an aspect of the job she finds extremely rewarding. In honor of American Pharmacists Month, we sat down with Nikita to learn more about her life and the inspiration that drives her daily work.
A passion for chemistry — combined with a natural talent for talking to people — is what initially inspired Nikita Patton to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Now, four years after graduating from an accelerated three-year program, Nikita says her positive impact on patient lives keeps her going strong.
Nikita joined the RxCrossroads by McKesson team — now CoverMyMeds — in 2018 after a stint at Walgreens. Although her current role isn’t within a traditional retail setting, Nikita has never felt so supported — or challenged, in a good way — in her professional career.
In honor of American Pharmacists Month, we sat down with Nikita to learn more about her daily life as a pharmacist.
Let’s start at the beginning. What inspired you to pursue a career in pharmacy?
I have a background in chemistry — I got my undergraduate degree at a 600-student college in Greensborough, N.C.
Post-grad, I moved to California to do some business and science work. While I was there, I met a woman who’s my current bestie — she encouraged me to apply to pharmacy school because she said my personality is bubbly and my smile is infectious, so I should be around people.
When I moved back to Louisville, Ky., I worked at Kroger, and a long-term care facility to get acquainted with the pharmaceutical industry, and I absolutely loved it. So, I applied to an accelerated three-year Doctor of Pharmacy program at Sullivan University.
After graduating from that program, I worked at Walgreens for a bit, but ultimately concluded that retail isn’t for me. So, I applied to RxCrossroads by McKesson — now CoverMyMeds’ program pharmacy — and got hired full-time in May 2018.
My current bestie encouraged me to apply to pharmacy school because she said my personality is bubbly and my smile is infectious, so I should be around people.
What interests you most about your job and the pharmaceutical industry?
When I was in school, I was most excited about specialty therapies for diseases like HIV and rare forms of cancer. Those disease states can be especially debilitating for patients to experience. They’re the ones who often need the most joy — something to give them a sense of relief.
My professors in school made it easy for students to learn about those difficult topics, so I love to translate my knowledge via fun songs or easy ways to remember how specialty drugs work, so my patients can understand their therapies and healthcare outcomes better, too.
How does your job differ from a traditional role in a retail pharmacy?
Retail pharmacists typically deal with the most common disease states — high blood pressure, diabetes and infections that require antibiotics.
At CoverMyMeds’ program pharmacy, we help people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives. That includes specialty medications for patients with complex disease states.
Often, those medications are the most expensive options available, which can present affordability challenges for some patients.
Can you explain how pharmacists can help patients afford their medications?
There’s a lot that pharmacists can do to help patients afford their medications — including looking for generic alternatives and connecting patients with copay or patient assistance programs.
For example, biopharma companies often provide a certain allotment of medications that can be dispensed through patient assistance programs at little or no cost to patients who qualify.
The medications qualifying patients get through those programs are the same they’d get through other channels — including brand name therapies and therapies that are newly approved by the FDA.
What does your typical day — if there is such a thing — look like at CoverMyMeds?
We pharmacists have three main responsibilities — phone calls, pharmacist verification and product verification.
For phone calls, we talk with patients to answer questions and address concerns regarding their specialty medications. We chat through potential side effects and drug interactions and explain how to properly store prescriptions. We also talk to providers on the phone to offer clinical advice and clarify information.
For pharmacist verification, we check prescriptions that we receive to ensure everything the provider prescribed is safe for the patient. We check for things like appropriate use and dosage — if we find any mistakes, we’ll call the patient’s provider and work to fix the issue.
The third thing we do is product verification, which happens when we visit the warehouse and check all the products. We want to ensure we’ve got the right medications in stock — the right quantity, the right dosage, you name it.
It’s a lot of quality control, but it’s important to make the entire prescription process more efficient for the patient.
We have three main responsibilities — phone calls, pharmacist verification, and product verification ... it’s a lot of quality control, but it’s important to make the entire prescription process more efficient for the patient.
What's your favorite thing about working as a pharmacist at CoverMyMeds?
When I worked at Walgreens, it was extremely fast paced. That’s not a bad thing, but my days are much steadier now — our program pharmacy team is large with 25-30 pharmacists on staff, so we’re able to divide the work and help each other out. In fact, I sometimes refer to us as a “pharmily” because we work so closely to improve patient lives. Even outside of work, we hang out and check on each other.
CoverMyMeds is an excellent place to grow as a pharmacist. And since we handle so many specialty medications, it’s also a great place to continue my education beyond the classroom. I’m constantly encouraged to learn how new medications work, which interactions to watch for and what their side effects may be. I feel challenged to study more and stay on top of my game.
Our team is large, with 25-30 pharmacists on staff, so we’re able to divide the work and help each other out. In fact, I sometimes refer to us as a ‘pharmily’ because we work so closely to improve patient lives.
How does your job help advance the CoverMyMeds company mission?
When we’re able to help patients access and afford their life-saving medication through our program pharmacy, that’s one less thing they have to worry about. Instead, they can focus on helping their kids with homework or integrating back into the workplace.
Especially with the pandemic, everyone has a laundry list of challenges to overcome. By helping people get the medicine they need to live healthier lives, the work we do can provide a little reprieve from worry for patients with complex disease states.
What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time away from work?
I am a huge traveler — exploring the world is absolutely my favorite thing to do. I’ve been to Europe twice, visiting various parts of Italy, Greece, Montenegro and Spain. I’ve also ventured to 31 of the 50 states. Upcoming travel plans include Alaska, Puerto Rico and maybe Thailand!
Want to work at CoverMyMeds? Explore our variety of open positions on our careers page.