/publications/career/2007/Careers_2007-09/Careers_2007-09_5073

PHARMACY PRACTICE THE "RITE" WAY

Author: Susan Farley

RITE AID KNOWS ONE OF THE best ways to provide quality care for its patients is to make sure that they take care of their pharmacists. From incorporating a state-of-the-art computer system that helps deliver vital patient and medication information in a timely fashion, to procuring discounts and flexible health benefits for its pharmacists, Rite Aid is committed to bringing patient and employee satisfaction to a higher level.

GETTING STARTED

When recruiting for pharmacists, Michele Belsey, vice president of college and professional recruitment at Rite Aid, says someone with community pharmacy experience will automatically be ahead of the pack. ?But we are also looking at what they have done with that experience,? she adds. ?What type of practice did they have?? In students, they look for participation in student pharmacy organizations, volunteerism, and charity work. ?We want to see someone who shows initiative to work on projects or posters, someone with leadership qualities, and maybe someone with experience with community clinical projects,? says Belsey. ?We are looking for people who can protect the public, who have a dedication to quality assurance, and can offer excellent counseling on medications.?

A new pharmacist at Rite Aid will immediately go to a staff position in a pharmacy. ?We do not want our pharmacists to float. We want them placed in a position where they can get to know the store and get to know the customers. The relationship between patient and pharmacist is very important. By floating them in different stores, it is harder to establish that,? says Belsey. ?If they have been there for awhile, we encourage our pharmacists to become pharmacy managers.?

One tool for Rite Aid pharmacists to stay ahead of the game is its ?NextGen? pharmacy computer system. According to Belsey, ?it is a great system that helps increase efficiency and workflow in the pharmacy. And it is easy to use?if you can use Microsoft Word, then you can use this system.?

MEETING PATIENTS? NEEDS

With systems such as NextGen in place, pharmacists can devote more time to identifying their patients? overarching needs. For example, are there more cases of diabetes, asthma, etc, in the patient population, and how can we address that? Once identified, pharmacists can work with Rite Aid?s clinical services department to develop special clinics to meet patients? needs. Rite Aid, for example, is a big partner with the American Diabetes Association. ?We encourage our pharmacists to establish these kinds of relationships with the relevant medical associations?anything that can help the patients,? says Belsey.

?Community pharmacy helps you know the patients better,? she continues. ?Our pharmacists are focusing on OTC recommendations and educating patients on their medications; they are not focused on the time factor.?

MEETING PHARMACISTS? NEEDS

One way Rite Aid is attracting pharmacists is by offering what they term ?work-life benefits.? Belsey describes their compensation and benefits package as ?top rate.? She adds, ?the overall cost of the benefits package is very reasonable....We do not have a cap on the 401(k) contribution and we have a match program.? Rite Aid also offers flexible health plans with different tier options available depending on the individual?s situation. ?As part of our work-life benefits, you can put money away through your paycheck for a vacation fund; there?s a great associate?s discount; there?s a perks card for everyday shopping; discounts on cell phones, home mortgages, and life insurance,? she adds. ?We try to concentrate on the things that people need every day and get them discounts.?

Rite Aid?s entire business is focused on pharmacy?all of their profits come from pharmacy, so they take care of their patients first and their pharmacists second. As they prepare to take over Brooks Pharmacy, that successful philosophy and business model will continue to be what makes Rite Aid stand out from its competition.