By Chris Bent, TRUST President
I’ve been in my role at Prime Therapeutics for almost a year and a half now. As I’ve networked with TRUST members, people ask what prompted me to make the big career change from the provider side in integrated health care delivery systems to a pharmacy benefit management (PBM) organization. As I reflect on the decision, I can honestly say it wasn’t one thing but several. My family, capabilities and interests, and the power of networking were all key factors.
My career change story starts back at the University of Minnesota’s Master of Health Care Administration (MHA) program. I followed my mom into that field, and I believe we are the first mother-daughter duo to go through their MHA program. At that time, the program largely groomed students to be hospital presidents. Never say never, but I have yet to be one. Instead, I selected my first role 25 years ago in Boston as a clinic practice administrator within an integrated delivery system. This was an intentional move because I liked being close to care delivery, and the setting appeared entrepreneurial—more on how I got that first job in a minute.
Fast forward to my last position leading the clinic division within Allina Health, and I felt incredibly fortunate to have achieved a role that seemed like a capstone of my career to date. So why did I leave? I knew the team I led had accomplished the next phase of initiatives (or were well on their way), and I was incredibly proud of their work. A mentor once shared, “There’s always going to be the next set of milestones, so waiting until they’re all done to leave is not a thing.” I had also intentionally worked on a secession plan, and the person I had chosen was ready for the next step.
On the family front, I was living the sandwich generation and needed to be close to my mom to support her care needs. Our family (Evon, Max (15), Spenser (13) and I) call Minneapolis home, so staying local was important to me and us. Also, my husband was starting a business, so we jointly decided I would provide the family’s financial security.
Now, back to how I got my first job after grad school. I moved to the east coast with the guy I was dating at the time. I didn’t know a soul in Boston, but I used the MHA alumni directory and cold-called a few alums. One alum was Ken Paulus, COO, for the physician network at Mass General Brigham (formerly Partners HealthCare). He took my call and introduced me to several leaders in the system. After meeting with them all, I shared that I liked the clinic role, and that’s where I ended up. I have continued to network with Ken throughout my career. He called me most recently after he joined Prime Therapeutics more than two years ago and said they were working on transforming the PBM industry—removing friction for members and providers—and asked if I would be interested in joining the team. I love operating in the grey zones in health care where there’s a complex problem ripe for innovation that will ultimately improve the experience and outcomes for those we serve. His call with this opportunity came at just the right time for my family and me.
Everyone has a story about a big career move they’ve made. Sometimes it’s a move up, a lateral change, or a start over in a completely new field. Frequently family, interests, connections and timing play a role. If you’re contemplating a career move, take the time to listen to your head and your heart, talk it through with family and mentors, and then make the leap right for you.
Christine (Chris) Bent currently serves as TRUST President and is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Prime Therapeutics. Chris was named one of the Notable Heroes of Health Care for 2020 by Twin Cities Business.