Providing the backbone: Melanie Dettmer and the Department of Pharmaceutical Care

Melanie Dettmer photo with mask

Just as the human backbone serves as the body’s central support structure, Melanie Dettmer, CPhT, says pharmacy is the backbone that brings hospital care teams together.

Dettmer, a support services coordinator in the Department of Pharmaceutical Care at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, says many aspects of patient care are touched by pharmacy services.

“Everyone needs pharmacy services at some time in their lives,” Dettmer says. “Pharmacy is a very high-touch service in that we work for and with patients, their doctors and nurses, and insurance companies to get the medications that our patients need.”

An abundance of opportunities

At UI Hospitals & Clinics, there are multiple inpatient and outpatient pharmacy locations working to serve our patients’ needs. Pharmacy technicians are fully integrated into a variety of care teams to provide patient support for their pharmaceutical needs. A few such roles are compounding, filling, and working with patients’ insurance to make sure their medications are available and affordable.

In addition to working directly with physicians, nurses, and other pharmacists, pharmacy technicians can also work in support services or revenue cycle roles.

“You can work in a retail pharmacy, but the draw to working in a hospital setting is that you have so many opportunities to broaden your career path while still focusing on patient care,” Dettmer says. “While pharmacy roles are front facing in many aspects, technicians have the opportunity to move both horizontally and vertically in their career.  They can move between ambulatory, acute care, and retail settings which makes this field so interesting. You can start as a filling technician and move into a support services or billing role. You can become an expert in your specialty niche and in time, possibly grow into a leadership position.”

I feel educated and empowered while working here. I have received recognition for the work I do from patients and my co-workers, and that makes a difference.

— Melanie Dettmer, CPhT

The place to be

Dettmer started working as a pharmacy technician in a retail pharmacy in Illinois at age 16 because she was interested in medical careers. In 2017, she joined UI Hospitals & Clinics as a support service specialist within Specialty Pharmacy Services and within two years, she had the opportunity to move into her current position as a support service coordinator.

“Looking back, working in pharmacy has been whirlwind experience,” she says. “I learned about customer service, new medications, different disease states, and I’ve found a passion for it. I wasn’t sure if being a doctor or nurse was something I wanted to do, but I quickly realized, pharmacy is a way for me to help others during their time of need.”

At UI Hospitals & Clinics, Dettmer found what she was looking for.

“I did work at a smaller hospital for a time, but we are the go-to place in the state of Iowa with the latest advancements in medicine,” she says. “We have a Level I trauma center, and you have the opportunity to work with people in the top of their field. It really is just a great institution overall.

People from all over the country and world come to work here. It’s a strong program with diverse people and by working here, I have the opportunity to be a part of a higher level of care.”

Working in Specialty Pharmacy Services has allowed Dettmer to build strong relationships with a variety of teams including, patient management, billing and prior authorization, fulfillment, and clinical pharmacy specialists.

“I feel educated and empowered while working here,” she says, “I have received recognition for the work I do from patients and my co-workers, and that makes a difference.”