/publications/career/2008/Careers_2008-02/Careers_2008-02_8019

PHARMACISTS ARE PART OF THE FAMILY AT THE NATION'S OLDEST RETAIL CHAIN

Author: Elizabeth S. Roop

After 117 years of successful operations, the Bartell family has learned a thing or two about running a successful pharmacy chain.

"It is [about] focusing on the patient as well as?having a one-on-one connection with each of our employees," said Carol Carnahan, RPh, director of pharmacy for Seattlebased Bartell Drugs, the oldest family-owned retail pharmacy chain in the nation. "We encourage our pharmacists to share ideas regarding patient care and pharmacy services."

Founded in 1890 by pharmacist George H. Bartell, Sr, Bartell Drugs remains a pharmacistcentric organization. The family also remains just as visible and involved in the company's dayto- day operations as they were a century ago—including making personal visits to each of the 55 stores throughout Puget Sound every holiday season.

Chairman and chief executive officer George Bartell "takes a lot of pride not only in the way each store looks, but also the relationship he has with his employees," said Rebecca Siegmund, assistant vice president of marketing. "It is part of the emotional investment and the day-to-day business ethic that the family has and imparts on the entire organization."

Part of that investment can be seen in the chain's many innovative patientcare programs, including immunizations at in-house clinics and on-site at local businesses, traveling osteoporosis screenings, cholesterol screenings, medication therapy management services, and even travel clinics designed to meet the unique needs of patients who will be traveling outside the country.

All the programs have been developed in part to achieve Bartell's goal of being the region's health care provider of choice. More important, the programs were all designed and implemented by the chain's pharmacists, who are in the best position to know the needs of the community each store serves.

"We encourage our pharmacists to drive cognitive services programs in their stores," said Carnahan. "That is how all of our programs got started, by pharmacist request. It is my job as director of pharmacy to support them in whatever way I can, so that they can provide the services to their patients that they want."

Knowing that, it should come as no surprise that a career with Bartell offers the flexibility to explore multiple avenues. Pharmacists start as either relief or staff pharmacists and then progress to pharmacy manager and district manager, or they can pursue opportunities outside the pharmacy, such as store management.

"When we place a pharmacist in a store, we want to make sure that it is a good fit for themselves, the store, and the neighborhood," said Carnahan. "The opportunities are there [in the pharmacy] if that is the career path they want to choose, and there are certainly opportunities if they want to go outside of pharmacy."

In addition to a competitive benefits package that includes medical, dental, vision, and disability insurance, as well as a 401(k) plan, Bartell provides pharmacists with the incremental training they may need to pursue additional service areas. The company also is undergoing a chainwide information system upgrade to ensure pharmacists have access to the latest technological tools they need to provide the highest quality care possible to their patients.

Finally, Bartell "continues to encourage our pharmacists to get out into the community," said Siegmund, such as participation in one of the many company-sponsored events, providing outreach services in senior centers, or getting involved in one of the charitable organizations the company supports.

Anyone interested in a career with Bartell Drugs is encouraged to visit the company's Web site at www.bartelldrugs.com, or simply to drop by any of the stores and talk with the pharmacist.

When it comes to its pharmacists, Bartell "will support their practice and their profession," said Carnahan.