INNOVATION PAVES THE WAY FOR PATIENT-CENTERED CARE AT WALGREENS

Author: Susan Farley

SINCE AGE 15, AMELIA JAROSZ has been working in pharmacies. She got her start as a clerk at a small independent pharmacy in Pawtucket, RI?one of those old-fashioned pharmacies where the pharmacists work on an upper level and the clerks assist patients on a lower level. For the past 4 years, Jarosz has been working at the North Providence, RI, Walgreens store and has no plans to leave. She says that no matter where her career takes her, she intends to stay connected to Walgreens in some way, if only on a part-time basis.

The friendly work environment and the dedication to patient care make her want to stay indefinitely, but add in the compensation and benefits, and the opportunities at Walgreens are hard to ignore.

?I can say the compensation, benefits, vacation time, flexible spending, discounts, and all of that is very competitive with the other chains. One aspect that I think is great is the stock options. I have only been there 4 years, and I?ve got stock options. Also, you can transfer wherever you want, which, for a new graduate, is awesome. You can move around to different locations until you decide where you want to stay.?

AN ADVANCED PRACTICE

According to Jarosz, Walgreens? forward thinking and innovation are what initially attracted her to the chain. ?It was really advanced, compared with the other chains I had worked at,? says Jarosz.

One feature Jarosz immediately points out is Walgreens? Intercom Plus system, a database of clinical pharmacology information. Pharmacists can use that to pull up interactions for drugs, look up herbal medicines, and more. ?It gives you the basic points you should know, so you can tell your patient right away.?

An automated dispensing machine is stocked with the top 200 drugs, which are dispensed, labeled, and sealed with little margin of error?a system that frees the pharmacist to offer clinical assistance to patients. Jarosz adds, ?and there are so many safe checks that it is hard to make a mistake.?

?The thing about Walgreens is that they know they have something good, and they are constantly thinking of new ways to help the patients as well as the pharmacists. They are very innovative. They are always pushing the envelope. If I am verifying something and I have an idea about something, they will honestly look at it and maybe incorporate it into how things get done.? She notes that Walgreens is invested in staying a step ahead, which is a necessity in the competitive retail pharmacy environment.

A TEAM EFFORT

From a pharmacist perspective, Walgreens is always looking out for their people. ?They are always looking for ways to make our jobs better, so we can spend more time with the customers,? says Jarosz. That spirit of pharmacists helping pharmacists carries over the staffs of all Walgreens stores.

For instance, at Walgreens, many store managers are certified as pharmacy technicians, so if there is ever a shortage of technicians, that manager can step in to get the job done. That works both ways, says Jarosz, who will send a technician ?up front? if the retail side is in need of help. No divide is in place between the retail side and the pharmacy, she says, and that makes for a better working environment all around.

PUTTING CUSTOMERS FIRST

According to Jarosz, Walgreens? innovative practice is what allows the pharmacists to meet and exceed their customers? needs. ?Because the computer system is so good, I can spend more time with the customers, talking to them about their medications or whatever they need to talk about. We are able to get to know our customers on a first-name basis.?

This is the kind of atmosphere that Walgreens fosters. ?As a pharmacist, I always try to give more information than what they are looking for,? she says. ?Sometimes they want to take something they really shouldn?t. I feel like the more knowledgeable you are about something, the more comfortable you will feel about taking your meds. So, yes, I do tend to be overzealous. I just think it is important for people, if they are going to put a chemical in their body, they should know what it is.?

?The caliber of pharmacists at Walgreens is very high. Their attitude towards the customers is incredible,? Jarosz said. ?It shows that a little compassion goes a long way.?