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Entering the pharmacy field can seem like an overwhelming prospect. With a host of options for pharmacists available in a variety of settings, it may take some time to narrow one’s choices and find the right place in which to build a career. The number of mass merchandisers offering pharmacy services has grown in recent years, as more and more Americans seek out the savings and convenience offered by such large-scale retailers. Walmart is one company that provides employment opportunities that are as far-reaching as its brand, while giving patients the level of care they would typically find at a smaller-scale pharmacy.
“Our focus is in the details, so we operate our stores and pharmacies one customer at a time, one prescription at a time, and one pharmacy at a time,” said Walmart spokesperson Christi Davis Gallagher. “We encourage our pharmacists and pharmacy managers to run the pharmacy as if it were their own independent pharmacy.”
The company’s formula for success is a healthy one, evidenced by a total of 4100 pharmacies throughout the country, including 500 housed in Sam’s Clubs. Adding to Walmart’s allure for patients is their adherence to the credo, “Save Money. Live Better.”
Health care costs are dominating the public consciousness these days, with the state of the economy in turmoil and health care reform on the horizon. Walmart’s $4 prescription program has saved Americans more than $2 billion on their prescriptions since its launch in September 2006, Gallagher said, bringing savings to patients when they most need them. “Time and time again, our pharmacists tell us they are proud to work for a company that is making such a dramatic impact in their customers’ lives by providing access to affordable prescriptions that many customers might otherwise opt not to purchase,” said Gallagher.
It makes perfect sense that the company, in striving to meet the needs of patients, would look for a specific set of qualities and skills in pharmacists seeking to work there. The key basics of conscientiousness, diligence, and attention to detail form the framework of an ideal Walmart pharmacist, but the whole package is made up of so much more.
“At Walmart, we look for some- one who is patient-centric, because we want to ensure that every patient who walks into our store or pharmacy is treated with care and respect,” said Gallagher. “Good communication skills are also important for a pharmacist or intern, who must speak with physicians and nurses on a professional level, and then talk with patients in a way that they understand their drug treatments.”
Though it takes a certain type of individual to meet the company’s high standards, those who do will find a wealth of opportunity, as well as benefits to be reaped. As a Walmart pharmacist, one can go on to work in various areas of the business—health and wellness, operations, merchandising, information systems, or Walmart.com. “One of the greatest things about working for Walmart is that if you are willing to work hard and strive for excellence, the sky is the limit,” said Gallagher.
Walmart’s generous benefits packages are paired with perks that are not always found in other pharmacy settings. For example, an oft-heard pharmacist complaint is that the hectic nature of their workplaces does not allow for them to get off of their feet and take a lunch break during a shift.
Although Walmart pharmacies also serve a high volume of patients on any given day, the company ensures that every pharmacist gets at least a 30-minute lunch break. In addition, Walmart’s hours of operation and staffing allow for flexibility in scheduling.
Perhaps the reason Walmart values its pharmacists is because it recognizes the value of pharmacists. Gallagher is certainly cognizant of how crucial a role pharmacists play as health care professionals.
“Our pharmacists take their role seriously to be the local trusted health professional for their customers, providing counsel and education to our customers to ensure that they understand their prescription drug treatments and have guidance on over-the-counter products.”
Launching one’s career as a Walmart pharmacist comes with a multitude of lasting advantages for those who rise to the occasion. For those who remain unsure of whether the company, or any given pharmacy workplace, is right for them, Gallagher offers some words of advice.
“We encourage pharmacy students and interns to make a list of the things that are the most important to them when looking for a career,” explained Gallagher.
“If quality of life, excellent benefits, a great working environment, growth and leadership opportunities, flexible scheduling, and appreciative patients are at the top of that list, then Walmart is the place for them.”