FEBRUARY 01, 2008
Barbara Sax

Papatya Tankut, RPh

CVS Caremark, which combines one of the nation's leading pharmaceutical services companies and the country's largest pharmacy chain, is the nation's premier integrated pharmacy services provider. With more than 1 billion prescriptions filled or managed per year, the company is positioned to be at the forefront of a constantly evolving industry.

In a health care delivery marketplace that is rapidly changing, CVS is uniquely positioned to provide solutions that will improve the pharmacy services experience for patients. The company is focused on managing costs while improving health care outcomes through its CVS/pharmacy stores; its pharmacy benefit management, mail-order and specialty pharmacy division, Caremark Pharmacy Services; its retail-based health clinic subsidiary, MinuteClinic; and its online pharmacy. This focus on the future of pharmacy practice creates an exciting work environment—one with many opportunities for pharmacists.

"The CVS Caremark combination is expected to improve the delivery of pharmacy services and health care decision making in an increasingly consumer-centric environment, enabling customers to benefit from unparalleled access, greater convenience, and more choice," said Papatya Tankut, RPh, vice president of pharmacy professional services for CVS/pharmacy.

Perhaps the biggest part of the equation is pharmacists. "Seventy percent of our retail business comes from the pharmacy, and it's the heart and soul of our business," said Tankut. "Because our pharmacists are the most accessible points of contact for our health care services, their relationship to our customers plays an important role in our mission to improve the lives of those we serve by making innovative and high-quality health and pharmacy services safe, affordable, and easy to access."

Tankut said that disease management is an increasingly important part of pharmacy practice and CVS. Through its merger with Caremark, the company is uniquely positioned to offer new end-to-end services for patients that will include disease management. "Our pharmacists will play a critical role in executing these services," she said.

"The vision of CVS/Caremark is to strive to improve the quality of human life. This vision extends to our retail pharmacies where we have the most direct contact with customers," said Tankut. Because CVS understands the value its pharmacists provide customers, the chain has positioned pharmacists as accessible, valued providers of medication and education.

"CVS/pharmacy offers a workplace for pharmacists that allows them to spend more time on the professional aspects of their job such as counseling patients and performing drug utilization review," said Tankut. "One of the key drivers in making this happen is the strategic design of our workflow. Pharmacy systems and workflow are designed to provide more time for pharmacists to spend with patients."

For example, insurance adjudication issues are handled by the pharmacy support staff at the point of drop-off. Bar-code scanning technology and magnified images of the prescriptions on pharmacists' workstations make the process of ensuring accuracy more efficient.

Once pharmacists come onboard, their careers can take many directions. "There are many traditional and nontraditional career paths available for pharmacists, ranging from retail to hospital, to home infusion," said Tankut. "We know that 60% of newly graduating pharmacy students will accept positions in a retail setting. At CVS/pharmacy, we are looking for pharmacists who have compassion and empathy for taking care of their patients, are professional and knowledgeable, and have the ability to integrate well with other health care professionals to provide the patient with the optimal pharmaceutical care."

With more than 6200 stores across the country, CVS has the ability to keep its pharmacists employed within the company if their family moves to another state. The chain even offers pharmacists the opportunity to work in more than 1 state if they have different seasonal residences. "We also offer our pharmacists a career path for those who desire to move into a field management position or a position in our corporate offices," said Tankut.

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