Pharmacy Times

DUANE READE: INNOVATION AND SERVICE

Author: Elizabeth S. Roop

With more than 240 stores throughout the metropolitan area, Duane Reade has become the most recognized drugstore chain in New York. For pharmacists with a desire to practice hands-on care in the community, however, the chain's real appeal is not its Big Apple location—it is the innovative programs designed to get them out from behind the counter.

"Duane Reade pharmacists may hand customers a product, but there is a whole service package that goes with it, and that is what we stress," said Kathleen Albert, RPh, manager of pharmacy marketing for Duane Reade.

"We focus on service and communication. To that end, we prefer to have our pharmacists out front, talking to people when possible, rather than behind the counter. At Duane Reade, it is not just about treating customers who are ill—it is about getting them to stay healthy and proactively protecting them against illness," said Albert. "Our pharmacists are counseling patients and working hard to be the neighborhood pharmacist that our customers can rely on."

As such, Duane Reade offers a wide range of internal programs designed to streamline workflow processes within the pharmacy, such as Central Fill, kiosks, and other automated tools that help pharmacists process prescriptions more efficiently.

Central Fill processes approximately 25,000 prescriptions a week that come in by phone, online, through the company's automated refill program, and as special orders. The chain also ensures that each store has the right support personnel to handle as many of the behind-the-counter functions as possible.

"We offer pharmacists the opportunity to get out there and provide real customer service in the form of patient consultations and the like," said Albert. "They are highly trained individuals who are good at what they do and have adequate support staff so that they focus on being the best they can be."

Duane Reade's innovations do not stop at the pharmacy doors. The company has a number of patientcare programs, most developed at the behest of its pharmacists. Each focuses on the unique needs of the communities served by the individual stores, as well as the chainwide dedication to improving patients' health and wellness.

In addition to wellness and the Diabetes Resource Centers, 6 stores have physician-staffed clinics to provide convenient, affordable care. The company also has established the Duane Reade Charitable Foundation, which supports a range of organizations that serve the needs of the company's patients and neighbors.

"Our employees possess a diversity of skill sets, and we have created career opportunities to reflect these different skill levels," said Albert.

In addition to graduate intern positions, every store has staff positions as well as floating positions, which allow pharmacists to hone their skills by working in a variety of locations. From there, pharmacists can move on to management or corporate positions, or into roles within Central Fill, Duane Reade's pharmacy benefits management division, or clinical services.

Albert notes that the employment opportunities at Duane Reade come with a very competitive salary, a comprehensive benefits package, and continuing education courses—not to mention top-of-the-line technology.

The perks, however, are not what make Duane Reade the place to be. Rather, it is the company's "commitment to patient care, convenience, and health and wellness. We live here; we work here. We are a part of the New York community. The people you are seeing—those patients—are your neighbors. And at Duane Reade, we give our pharmacists the tools they need to deliver pharmaceutical care in a retail setting, and a great job enabling them to practice pharmacy, not just fill bottles," said Albert.

Information on Duane Reade career opportunities is available at www.duanereade.com.