Bernie Brooks: Cooperative Clinical Intern

Emily Torgerson  •   March 18, 2020

In February, National CooperativeRx welcomed its second clinical intern, Bernie Brooks, to the team for a six-week period. Bernie is a fourth-year pharmacy student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), currently with us for one of his many rotations required to become a licensed pharmacist.

Originally from Chippewa Falls, Wis., Bernie received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota before moving to UW-Madison for pharmacy school.

“I always knew I wanted to work in some aspect of the medical field,” Bernie says. “I began my education with the idea of pursuing medical school, but after a few months, decided I needed more clarity in my future than just ‘medical school.’ I found a site that detailed various health care positions and pharmacy stood out to me as an industry that my chemistry degree would translate very well into. Beyond logistics, I’ve always been interested in how the human body is affected by and reacts to foreign objects. Pharmacy seemed to be the ideal field for me to expand on this interest.”

Bernie discovered the opportunity at National CooperativeRx through a roundtable presentation at UW-Madison given by Jocelyn Kerl, our clinical services manager, and thought the position description looked fascinating. “There are so many different career paths to go down as a pharmacist and this was a field of pharmacy I had never been exposed to before,” Bernie explains. “Besides a few weeks, there’s typically no exposure to insurance within our coursework.”

During his six weeks with the Cooperative, Bernie has most enjoyed learning our high-dollar claims process, which involves reviewing expensive prescription drug claims and removing questionable, fraudulent pharmacies from network. “I’ve always loved problem-solving, and it was interesting to see that the problem goes beyond medication type or dosing – you have to take into account plan restrictions and the potential for fraudulent activity from pharmacies or prescribers,” Bernie says. “I’ve also valued being able to travel for client meetings to see our members’ perspectives and learn what questions they have and what they value most in their benefit plan.”

As his internship ends, Bernie is grateful for the opportunity and guidance from the Cooperative team, especially Jocelyn and Erica Guetzlaff, who are Bernie’s mentors. When asked what his ideal career path looks like after graduation, Bernie said he plans to move somewhere out west, like Colorado or Washington, and focus on retail pharmacy. “I value patient interaction. I also love to travel, and I believe retail is the pharmaceutical avenue that works well with relocation. Another job that would really interest me is creating the trial protocols used in phases of drug development to prove their safety and efficacy in humans,” Bernie says.

“I have learned many life skills from my time at National CooperativeRx, the most valuable being that I have a much broader understanding of our health care system and what goes on behind the scenes when someone fills or picks up a prescription,” Bernie states. “It was beneficial to switch up the environment and pace of what I’m used to.”

When Bernie isn’t at his internship or studying, he likes to be active by playing pick-up basketball or volleyball, hiking and running. He also enjoys trying new restaurants, attending concerts and traveling. Click here to see more of what Bernie does in his free time!