My UMSOP Story – Bansri Desai, PharmD ’15, PhD ’23, pharmacist, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Bansri Desai is a 2015 graduate of the PharmD program and a 2023 graduate of the PhD in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) program. She now works on Medicare drug price negotiations as a pharmacist at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

What was your path to the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy?

I knew I was interested in a non-traditional pharmacy career, and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy had a lot of opportunities for folks who were not interested in that, including dual degree programs and opportunities for research.

What was your experience like in the PharmD program?

My experience in the PharmD program was great. I came in with a great cohort of students and had great faculty mentors. I had the opportunity to do research in the Pharmaceutical Health Services Research department as a first-year pharmacy student and that really shaped the rest of my career.

I ended up doing internships with industry and a residency after graduation. That’s what inspired me to come back to do my PhD.

What did you do between the PharmD and PhD programs?

Between my PharmD and the PhD, I did a managed care residency as a PGY-1. After that I took a job with CVS Caremark working as a clinical advisor.

What was your experience like in the PhD in PHSR program?

Coming back for my PhD was wonderful. It’s very different from the PharmD program. You can individualize your experience quite a bit more, and I learned a whole new skill set apart from what I learned in the PharmD program.

What led to your interest in pursuing a PhD?

Initially my experience doing research was mainly to beef up my CV for residency applications and future job applications. As time went on, I found that was my actual interest and something that I wanted to work in, but I wasn’t ready to commit to another degree program. That ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was able to go out and get additional experience that helped inform my work in my PhD. My faculty mentors in the department were always supportive, so when I chose not to do the PhD right after graduation, they were great, and when I told them I was ready to come back, they welcomed me with open arms.

Where are you working now?

I’m currently working at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a pharmacist working on the Medicare drug price negotiations. My experience in both the PhD and PharmD programs was instrumental in helping me arrive at this position mainly because not many folks have both types of experience – clinical and methods expertise. Having the combination is very unique and honestly very marketable.

What advice would you give to a prospective or current student?

The advice I would give students who are entering the PharmD or the PhD program is to get involved. Getting involved in student organizations, getting involved in research, and getting involved in other ways will always be beneficial. It will provide you with opportunities you might not have had otherwise.

About the PharmD program: Based in downtown Baltimore, the PharmD at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy combines basic and applied science as well as an in-depth therapeutics course of study to provide future generations of pharmacists with the knowledge and skills needed to be essential contributors in the dynamic health care arena. Learn more and apply today

About the PhD in PHSR program: The widespread use of medications in society has created a demand for individuals skilled in the evaluation of pharmaceutical services and interventions. The PhD in PHSR program provides graduates with the theory, practical experience, and decision-making skills they need to become expert researchers and address a wide range of pharmacy-related problems. Learn more and apply today.

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