New Residency Program Bridges Academics and Hands-On Learning

Picture of Dr.PonVickieAs part of the School of Pharmacy’s longstanding commitment to moving the pharmacy profession forward, the school has introduced a new post-graduate year 1 residency program in managed care.

The residency is designed to prepare its enrollees to work in a variety of healthcare organizations in a number of different roles, including pharmacy benefit managers, accountable care organizations, and managed care organizations. The residency is based at CareMore Health Plan in Cerritos, a Medicare Advantage plan that uses a patient-centered medical home and HMO model to serve Medicare and dual eligible (Medicare and Medicaid) patients in multiple states.

At CareMore, residents work to develop skills in a range of areas, including medication therapy management, clinical program development, formulary development and maintenance, drug information, contracting, patient care and teaching. Optional electives at additional managed care organizations may be arranged as well.

For Vickie Pon, the school’s first resident in this program, choosing the USC School of Pharmacy to do her post-graduate work seemed like the perfect fit. She works four days a week at CareMore, and spends one day a week on campus leading therapeutics case conferences with Pharm.D. students in their second and third years of the program.

“I decided to pursue a career in managed care because I wanted to be able to contribute positively to the most population groups,” said Pon, who received her Pharm.D. at the University of California, San Francisco, and did her undergraduate work at Caltech. “USC’s academic program combined with the unique range of experiences afforded at CareMore offered the best learning opportunity. USC also provides great mentors, which I realized as soon as I interviewed here.”

At CareMore, Pon works with patients each day, doing medication therapy management and other telephonic work, as well as interfacing with nurses and physicians about various queries. She is responsible for understanding and analyzing the financing aspect of pharmaceuticals, as well as drug information and pharmacy operations.

“I see myself staying with CareMore, hopefully, and working in managed care,” said Pon. “I hope to go onto a leadership track that integrates clinical pharmacy programs into various managed care models.”

Pon decided to pursue a managed care career when she did a six-week drug information rotation at Kaiser Permanente as a PharmD student. She is now able to expand on that experience both through hands-on learning with different patient care models at both CareMore and its parent company, WellPoint, and through a strong academic foundation.

“I like that the residency allows for broad based learning, with flexible focused learning also available,” explained Pon.

The program ultimately culminates in a residency project to be presented at the Western States Conference for Pharmacy Residents, Fellows and Preceptors.

For more information about the managed care residency, visit