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Various Dept Based Elective Course Description

Course Name:

Understanding Pharmacy Benefit Management for the Public Health Sector (Medicaid programs)

Course Number: XX-4012 
Elective Type: C
Coordinator(s): Caroline Alper, M.D. 
Department: ForHealth Consulting - Clinical Pharmacy Services
Sites Available: University South Street Campus
Weeks Offered: E1A, T5A, 10B
Number of Students / Month:
Prerequisites: Completion of all 3rd Year Clerkships
Offered to UMASS Students Only
Enrollment Process: Approval from coordinator required; email approval to to schedule

Elective Description:
 A 2-week elective experience for 4th year medical students to develop a basic understanding of the process of pharmacy benefit management in the Massachusetts public health sector, and to begin to develop the necessary skills to review “place in therapy” for a new drug, by working with a Physician Advisor at Commonwealth Medicine (a division of UMass Chan Medical School), Clinical Pharmacy Services.

Students will also begin to develop a basic understanding of the pharmaceutical industry as pertains to: new drug development, marketing/business practices, FDA-approval processes, and other implications to healthcare. In addition, students will begin to develop a basic understanding of the public and private healthcare systems, both locally and nationally.

Students will also have opportunities to work with pharmacy students and residents and pharmacists in a collaborative learning and work environment.


  • Students will gain a basic understanding of how pharmacy benefit management through the Clinical Pharmacy Services (CPS) program is accomplished for the public health sector, with particular attention to the Massachusetts Medicaid Pharmacy program (MassHealth)
  • Students will learn about new drugs to market and develop analytical skills to evaluate their place in therapy
  • Students will gain basic knowledge of various aspects of the pharmaceutical industry and its impact on healthcare
  • Students will begin to become familiar with the skills needed for efficient and effective practice in a managed care environment.
  • Students will gain beginning knowledge of the Massachusetts Medicaid/Pharmacy program, the healthcare system and healthcare reform in MA and nationally
  • Students will increase their experience working collaboratively with other health professionals

Grading:   This is a CR/NCR elective.

Note: There is no direct patient care. The student will be supervised by the Physician Advisor. Directed reading with topic discussion is a significant component of this elective.

* Offered to Umass Students Only

Location: University Campus, 333 South Street, Shrewsbury, MA  01545

Website: Commonwealth Medicine: