School of
Pharmacy

UMKC School of Pharmacy: Where Opportunities Abound

As the world becomes more aware of the growing skill sets of today’s pharmacists, the roles they play in health care will continue to evolve and expand. Our UMKC School of Pharmacy graduates reflect this, working in a vast array of health-care fields.

A work-from-home pharmacist, Katherine Lurk (’10) supports TrestleTree clients across the country with drug education and medication therapy designed to drive behavioral changes toward improved health and lower costs. With her clinical expertise, she also plays an important role on the company’s business development team.

How would you describe your current job as a pharmacist?
For the past 5-plus years, I have served TrestleTree in a clinical capacity, supporting a National Health Plan. As a pharmacist, I support client members with medication therapy management and solutions for drug and disease related concerns. I maintain active pharmacist licensure in 46 states plus Washington, D.C. That enables me to work directly with members in all parts of the United States. Additionally, I provide consultative support to the client's team of nurse case managers and for internal team of Health Coaches. I have also recently joined the business development team, bringing my clinical expertise and knowledge of TrestleTree's in-depth training and model for health transformation to new clients. My ongoing goal in this role is to build relationships and promote business expansion with large employer groups and benefit consultants to create behavior change and sustainable health improvements for individuals and families across the country.

What does a typical day look like in your role?
Typically, I provide clinical support to health coaching participants directly through telephone interactions and indirectly via phone and email communication with TrestleTree Health Coaches and nurse case managers. I also work with the business development team seeking new opportunities for business growth, providing presentations for potential clients, developing and implementing a marketing strategy, and learning the inner workings of business operations. It has been a very humbling, yet exciting, experience to employ my clinical expertise in the business world. 

What do you most enjoy about your particular job?
I enjoy my team and the leadership at TrestleTree. From the top down, this company is infused with goodness, kindness and compassion. And, we practice what we preach. We believe everyone deserves the opportunity to live in good health. TrestleTree has a mission to create sustainable change for individuals in all walks of life.

Why did you decide on Pharmacy as a career choice?
Growing up, I discovered a love for science, particularly chemistry. I chose pharmacy because of the diversity in career opportunities, along with the ability to develop a career that aligned with my life goals. I wanted to create a fulfilling, professional career with work-life balance that enabled me to enjoy my family, too.

What were your plans as a pharmacist when you started school?
Initially, I had a passion for oncology. I wanted to be an oncology specialty pharmacist providing expertise in this complex field, especially around medication management. After completing my first year of residency, my plans changed and propelled me into a completely different area of practice.  

How do you see the roles of pharmacists continuing to evolve in the future?
Opportunities for pharmacists continue to expand beyond traditional roles. Pharmacists possess a unique skill set that can be applied in research and business-driven roles along with clinical and industry specializations. With a recent transition to the business side, I have experienced first-hand the value of clinical knowledge and experience when sharing the inner workings of a company focused on improving health and optimizing clinical outcomes.

What would be your best advice for someone thinking about a career in pharmacy?
Keep an open mind and always look for unique opportunities. Be mindful of pivot points in your journey, the key decisions that will determine your path and the direction of your life. Embrace leadership roles early and throughout your education and develop relationships with instructors and peers.  

Why should someone pick the UMKC School of Pharmacy?
UMKC offers a strong pharmacy education with many opportunities for students to explore their interests and develop their passions. It is also incredibly unique that the School of Pharmacy is located on Hospital Hill with the medical, dental and nursing schools creating a collaborative environment for learning and a team approach to clinical practice.

How did your time at the UMKC School of Pharmacy help prepare you for your current role as a pharmacist?
UMKC's rigorous academics provided me strong clinical skills and knowledge that I built upon during residency and years of clinical practice. I also embraced leadership opportunities in various organizations and worked closely with faculty and staff. These relationships proved to be valuable for referrals into internships and residency programs, and many of them remain part of my pharmacy network today.

What do you do outside of work for fun?
I enjoy spending time with family and friends, nice dinners, summers on the water, and watching my kids play the sports they love. Being a mom is the best and I'm grateful for a career that provides a balance between family and work.

Published: Jun 9, 2021
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