/publications/career/2010/PharmacyCareers_Fall2010/LargeRetailers-Fall2010

Walmart’s Size Benefits Patients, Pharmacists

Author: Barbara Sax

The largest retailer in the world is a big force in pharmacy. With more than 4000 pharmacies nationwide, pharmacy has become a key component of Walmart Stores Inc's business.

Ami Bhatt, PharmD, director of talent acquisitions for Walmart Stores Inc’s health and wellness division, said the company believes that quality health care is the foundation of a better life, and Walmart gives its pharmacists the tools and resources to deliver that quality to patients every day.

“We have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of millions of people every day,” explained Dr. Bhatt. “Pharmacy is extremely important in helping our customers and associates live healthier lives.”

Considering the size and reach of the Walmart corporation, it is no surprise that Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies have become the employer of choice for many community pharmacists eager to provide optimum patient care. Pharmacists who have chosen to make their careers at the behemoth retailer say it is a great place to practice community pharmacy.

Pharmacists in Walmart’s Sam’s Club division, for example, rank among the best in the nation, based on an Independent Customer Satisfaction Study of National Retail Pharmacies.

“Although we are the largest retailer in the world, our company culture, started by Sam Walton, has never changed—respect for the individual, service to our customers, and striving for excellence. This is how we treat our customers, our patients, and one another,” said Dr. Bhatt.

“One common theme among our pharmacists is the enjoyment they receive from medication therapy or by making recommendations on an appropriate OTC remedy. Our pharmacists enjoy helping patients live healthier lives,” said Dr. Bhatt.

Buying Power Supports $4 Prescriptions
Being the largest retailer in the world has advantages— and Walmart has used its buying power to bring affordable medication to patients. The company’s $4 program, which offers hundreds of prescriptions for a wide range of conditions and diagnosis groups for the low cost of $4 for a 30-day supply, has already saved patients more than $3 billion.

Dr. Bhatt said Walmart pharmacists are proud of the program. “The program makes you feel like you are part of something bigger that involves an entire community,” said Dr. Bhatt. The sentiment was echoed by Walmart pharmacist Jeremy Smith. “Each life we help by making our patients’ medications affordable and accessible shows how much we care for them,” he said.

While Walmart focuses on affordability for its patients, it is also firmly committed to ensuring that its pharmacists are afforded a positive workplace that continually offers challenges and rewards. The company makes sure its pharmacists have the tools and resources that will allow them to best serve their patients and have a fulfilling work experience.

Cutting edge Technology and Workflow
Seamlessly integrated cutting edge technology connects pharmacists to patient histories and the knowledge of other pharmacists across the country. Additionally, Walmart pharmacists are encouraged to pursue continuing education (CE) and are given many opportunities to hone their skills and expand their knowledge. Because Walmart is a Strategic Alliance Partner with Pharmacy Times, for example, Walmart pharmacists can take free CE lessons at www.PharmacyTimes.com.

The company has designed its workflow and computer system to allow pharmacists to spend time with their patients, as well as allow them the focus to ensure accurate and appropriate prescription services.

“Our workflow design and computer system are the key components in a strategy to provide service to our patients,” said Dr. Bhatt. “Our computer system, Connexus, was designed to place our associates in the role that best suits their responsibility in the pharmacy.”

In its Sam’s Club division, Walmart holds quarterly health screenings for its members and the community. Bone density, cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, and body mass index screenings are offered under the program.

Career Oportunities
A number of career opportunities are open to Walmart pharmacists. “We have approximately 15,000 pharmacists in our stores and clubs,” said Dr. Bhatt. “Within the health and wellness division, we have pharmacists at various leadership levels in operations, professional affairs, strategy and innovations, merchandising, human resources, and even Walmart.com.”

The company’s size is an advantage, explained Dr. Bhatt. Walmart employs more than 2.1 million associates around the world and serves more than 200 million patients a week. Some pharmacists appreciate the stability of working for a large company—especially in a difficult economy. “I love working for Walmart,” said Rich Rothman, who has been a Walmart pharmacist for 15 years and plans to retire with the company. “Your longterm financial success is built on a company’s stability, and where can you find a more stable company than Walmart?”

Walmart’s magnitude also enables pharmacists to explore many different career paths throughout the company. “A career at Walmart provides pharmacists the chance to grow in ways they may have never imagined. The range of opportunities is endless,” said Dr. Bhatt.

The Walmart pharmacists agree. Vince Williams, a Walmart pharmacist, put it this way: “At Walmart, I have a tremendous number of opportunities to improve my skills and take advantage of the diverse career paths that are available.”


Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Maryland.