Pharmacy Times

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS AT CVS

Author: Susan Farley

DECIDING WHERE TO PRACTICE pharmacy after the completion of formal education is a big decision?one that can impact an entire career trajectory. Working for a retail chain has always been an appealing option as it allows for a patient-centered pharmacy practice, as well as the opportunity to delve into other aspects of the pharmacy business, such as management, regulatory affairs, etc. At CVS, gathering the most experienced and qualified students and setting them on the path to success is a primary goal.

Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy professional services at CVS, is in charge of the company?s national recruitment program. ?Recruitment is a twofold effort at CVS. The primary focus is on the schools of pharmacy. We team up with the schools to build relationships and capture the individuals as they gain their pharmacy experience in school. The second part is local recruitment, where we focus on pharmacists in the community who are looking for a different place to work.?

While in college, pharmacy students can take part in CVS?s intern training program, which exposes students to work in a real pharmacy while they are still in school. CVS expands on this relationship with the schools of pharmacy by hosting pharmacy-related lectures on campus, where educating students on the benefits of community pharmacy is a popular topic.

For many pharmacists, patient counseling is at the heart of their ideal pharmacy practice. At CVS, says Tankut, ?anytime you see an opportunity to counsel a patient, you do that.? Their pharmacist-to-technician ratio is designed to allow pharmacists the time they need to answer patient questions. Additionally, their computer set-up allows the pharmacy staff to flag certain individuals who may need to be counseled. ?Pharmacists are so greatly positioned to be a real educator of patients. There is that 24-hour availability, no appointments are necessary, and they are there to offer advice. For someone who does not have the time to go to the doctor?s or who cannot afford it, they can receive sound counsel on medications.?

One thing CVS officials are really proud of is their pharmacist-administered immunization program. Most states will allow pharmacists to administer flu shots and other immunizations once they are trained and certified through the American Pharmacists Association. It is an 8-hour program that can certify pharmacy students before they graduate from pharmacy school. It becomes a real selling point for pharmacists just starting out, as they can begin work with a valuable tool under their belts. Tankut notes that as much experience as they can get prior to graduation, the more successful they will be.

As for what path to take once at CVS, the possibilities for advancement are tremendous. With some experience behind them, pharmacists can go on to become team managers in the store, or those with a more corporate ambition can enter CVS?s emerging leadership program or their succession planning program, which will provide them with management skills. With the recent addition of Caremark, positions also are available for clinical consultants and clinical pharmacists.

In addition, at CVS corporate headquarters, pharmacists hold over 50 positions. In fact, the president of CVS today is a pharmacist, as is the chief information officer.

Tankut, a CVS veteran of 14 years, notes that when compared with other retail pharmacies, CVS ranks at the top in terms of salary, benefits, advancement opportunities, and work environment. According to Tankut, one of the most convenient benefits of working at CVS is the flexibility in scheduling. She notes that ?77% of pharmacy students are female and, when they become working mothers, that flexible scheduling allows them the time they need.?

What keeps her at CVS, she says, is ?their respect for individuals, their openness to new ideas, the flexible schedule, and the environment for success that...gives you the tools to be successful at your job.?