Nurses Week: Road Warriors of the Specialty Pharmacy
Let’s take a trip together. It’s what we Road Warriors do. First stop, the specialty pharmacy organization chart. Travel south to the border of the chart, that is where you will find this small, but fierce, group of nurse warriors.
The definition of a road warrior is a person who travels frequently. Road warriors were also a professional wrestling tag team; so, which are we? Well, we are both. We are nurses; fierce enough, and as road warriors we live a fierce life. When you think of the term road warrior, you might picture an Amazonian warrior woman with her battle axe.
But really, it’s a bit more like the picture below. Me in my mask.
Let me tell you though, flying during the COVID-19 pandemic definitely feels like rocketing across the end-of-days. We travel everywhere and anywhere, it doesn’t matter how urban or how rural. Any type of weather, holidays, birthdays or pandemics, we travel.
Why do we travel so much? Well, we’re a small team responsible for pulmonary hypertension patients throughout a big country. We have three regions: East, Central, and West. Two supervisors and a manager per region do a great job orchestrating all the pieces so we can be great at our jobs.
I am in the West region, where we hold 13 nursing licenses; including Alaska & Hawaii. Fun fact, Alaska referrals only seem to come in the dead of winter. Not so fun fact, I cover Alaska. Travel tip for Alaska winters: always get a brightly colored car, send a picture of the car and license along with the address of the patient to the supervisor before heading off into the dark wilderness where they have moose.
A typical day for us can be an early flight, several hours drive to teach, and several hours drive to the next stop. There is no Road Warrior tag team wrestler waiting in the car to take care of things for us, so once we are back on the road, we are checking emails, voicemail, returning calls to the pharmacy, physicians’ offices, or patients. We work closely with our CVS pharmacists, benefits team, patient liaisons, and others. You name it, we do it! At the big hospital centers, we’re part of an LMP – Local Market Project. That’s a team made up of a nurse, supervisor, and other medical professionals. Whatever the hypertension program or coordinator needs, we figure out how to make it happen.
As road warriors we are joined at the hip with our phones and iPads. The TSA are our friends. We love our earbuds, noise cancelling headphones, Waze app, and podcasts (especially Crime Junkie) for those long drives with no cell service, candy crush for sitting on runways or crying babies, and protein bars. With the pandemic we had to get very creative with finding food; we eat and drink on the run. Another fun fact, if you put your noise cancelling headphones over your ear buds, you really can’t hear anyone on the plane.
And at the end of the day, whether we land at home or a hotel, there is the paperwork. The day is done when the paperwork is complete and in the hands of our wonderful data entry team.
We worked throughout the pandemic to care for our patients, exclusively from home at first, but eventually we had to get back into the field. I personally contracted COVID-19 in July, even with the extra precautions. As a nurse of 33 years, I know it comes with the territory. Thankfully I am fine and recovered completely. I know there are others of us who also contracted it, recovered, and hit the road again. It is who we are and what we do.
CVS PAH nurses: a small group in the CVS Specialty Pharmacy family dedicated to the education and care of our dear pulmonary hypertension patients, helping them navigate all the pieces that go into dealing with this illness and working with a specialty pharmacy. We are the liaison between the doctors, the patients, and the pharmacy. No small task and no finer work to be done, Road Warriors indeed.
Terry Hutchins, RN,CNSS