Regional Chains Are Ideal Practice Setting for Some

FEBRUARY 01, 2009
Eileen Koutnik-Fotopoulos

Staff Writer

Students have many opportunities upon graduation from pharmacy school. Choosing the right career path can be overwhelming. Pharmacists need to consider the practice setting, size of the pharmacy, and most important, what they hope to achieve in their profession. Oftentimes, pharmacists who have an internship with a smaller chain discover that this practice setting fits their ideal pharmacy job.

Many pharmacists are opting to practice in smaller, regional chains, because they want more opportunities to serve patients in the community and more involvement in the business of running a pharmacy. The relationships they build with patients through daily interaction help foster trust between patients and the pharmacists who provide the service. As the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists are in a unique position to educate patients on their medications and other health-related issues.

A career in a smaller chain offers many unique benefits. In addition to providing one-on-one counseling to patients, pharmacists are part of a health care team that works collaboratively with physicians to manage patients' drug therapy. Pharmacists in this practice setting may find opportunities to gain more patient interaction through various pharmacy programs such as disease state management, immunization services, medication therapy management, and clinic services.

Here is a brief summary of facts about some of the top chains:


  • Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
  • Operates 30 pharmacies in southeastern South Dakota, northwestern Iowa, and southwestern Minnesota
  • 2007 revenue: $143 million
  • Dispenses an average of 200,000 prescriptions per month
  • Employees: approximately 300 full- and part-time pharmacy employees, including pharmacists, technicians, and clerks
  • Offers competitive starting salary with industry
  • Benefit package includes health insurance, dental insurance, short- and long-term disability insurance; 401(k) plan; and paid time off


  • Headquartered in Gouverneur, New York, with a regional office in Syracuse, New York
  • Operates 87 retail stores and 4 institutional pharmacies; retail locations throughout upstate New York and northern Vermont; and Health Direct Institutional pharmacies in Gouverneur, Syracuse, Canandaigua, and Burlington. ProAct pharmacy benefits management and Health Direct mail-order pharmacy both located in Gouverneur.
  • 2007 revenue: $610 million
  • Dispenses 575,000 scripts per month
  • Employees: 938
  • Benefit package includes health insurance, vacation and sick time, store discount, reimbursement of professional licensing fees, employee stock ownership plan contribution, profit sharing, and company-sponsored continuing education programs


  • Headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with 2 divisions: Shopko and Shopko Express Rx
  • Operates 136 Shopko stores, 6 Shopko Express stores, and 3 Shopko Express Rx stores in 13 states
  • Annual sales exceed $2.2 billion
  • Employees: >16,000 teammates
  • Offers competitive salary with industry and comparable benefits to pharmacists who work a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Benefit package includes medical, dental, and vision coverage; paid vacation and holidays; flexible spending account; 401(k) plus company match; employee assistance programs; service recognition awards; teammate appreciation sales; and teammate retail discount.

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