The real-world experience of working in a pharmacy can go a long way toward helping a graduating pharmacy student decide what type of job opportunity to pursue and where to pursue it. You and your colleagues have had the opportunity to intern in various settings—and war stories surely have been exchanged about what it was really like on site, on call, and in action in a pharmacy or health clinic. Now comes the time to make your move and apply for a position that best serves your personal needs, goals, and personality.
Your choice may be necessitated by the current job market (see Job Facts and Figures) or your clinical interests and connections. And as they say in real estate, it could also come down to location, location, location. Do you want to live in a city, suburban, or rural environment? What part of the country appeals to you and where would you like to set down roots in a community? Many young pharmacists are looking at the regional chains, which can offer good benefits, a chance to practice excellent community pharmacy, and also provide a pleasant lifestyle. Regional chains often afford more upward mobility, diverse job experience, and good health programs and services that will offer the new pharmacist practical experience and training.
The Evolution of Kerr Drug’s Comprehensive Services
One of the best regional chains in the country is North Carolina–based Kerr Drug. With roots in this part of the country, Kerr Drug has been a part of the state’s heritage since 1951, when founder Banks Kerr first opened the doors. The chain’s history has not been without some twists and turns. JC Penney acquired the 97 drugstores in 1996, adding Fay’s Drug Inc in New York as well as another 190 Rite Aid drugstores in the Carolinas to their holdings. When Eckerd Drug Inc was on the table as a new purchase, JC Penney was forced by the Federal Trade Commission to divest 34 Kerr Drug properties and 130 Rite Aids in the Carolinas. Ultimately, the Kerr Drug brand was reborn and remained as the privately-owned premiere regional chain in the Carolinas, operating 90 drugstores with 1800 employees.
Today, Kerr Drug is well-known for its innovative patient-centric services and is a good example of a regional chain’s growth and evolution. With a mission to provide both patients and the health care professional community—including physicians and health plans—with the most comprehensive provider of pharmacy and related health care services, this chain has gained national attention for its delivery of patient services. In June 2009, the company was named the “Top Chain Pharmacy” by Outcomes Pharmaceutical Health Care, a national medication therapy management (MTM) provider. For the second consecutive year with this honor, Kerr Drug has served nearly 10,000 MTM-eligible patients, and has saved more than $2 million in estimated cost avoidance.
The award is at the core of this company’s goals. “Helping patients understand their medications is at the heart of the mission of a communitybased pharmacy,” said Anthony Civello, BSPharm, chairman and chief executive officer. “Medication management is more than just filling a prescription. Our pharmacists make sure patients know everything they need to know about their medications before they leave the store.” MTM’s stated goals are to enhance the consumers’ understanding of medications, increase consumers’ adherence to medication directions, and prevent drug complications, conflicts, and interactions.
In addition to pharmacy services, Kerr Drug also operates Kerr Health Care Services (KHCS), which focuses on long-term care facilities as well as specialty prescriptions. An advanced diagnostic testing for chronic disease prevention called “Know Your Number” is also a big part of KHCS. The patented revolutionary technology is only available at KHCS, and is used to predict an individual’s risks of developing chronic, preventable, obesity-related diseases, such as diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recognized Kerr’s advanced diabetic education and patient care with the 2008 ADA Provider of the Year award.
Additionally, the company also launched KDI Health Solutions (KHS), a pioneer in preventive and chronic care management with a staff of pharmacists and dietitians who provide patient care services throughout the Carolinas.
A New Community Health Center Concept
The newest innovation for this regional retail chain was unveiled in November 2009, when the company launched a new community health care center store, the third of its kind for Kerr Drug, but one with improvements and revolutionary cutting- edge store concepts. The full-scale drugstore in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, combined some of the best new thinking in pharmacy care and disease management with state-of-the-art drugstore merchandising and customer convenience. The old-fashioned pharmacy became a thing of the past in North Carolina as this impressive 13,500-square-foot operation was presented.
“We are at the doorstep not only of a new store, but also the future of community pharmacy,” said Civello at the grand opening. The look and feel is certainly new—a main “street” leads directly from the front door to the pharmacy counter, for one thing. And the open store design displays all of the health care services that are available. Customers can also speak directly to a dedicated health resource coordinator, who is stationed at a desk in the center of the drugstore, for personal conciergelike help.
New dedicated private exam rooms are now used for immunizations, disease management, MTM, nutritional counseling, and in-depth counseling. In addition, an innovative program of personalized care focuses on pharmacogenetics, which will potentially save thousands of dollars in health care. By utilizing DNA testing in this unique pharmacy setting, Lisa Adams Padgett, PharmD, clinical coordinator, hopes to revolutionize this concept in cooperation with the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
This forward-thinking flagship drugstore also boasts a large selection of natural and organic foods as well as homeopathic products—a new concept that could become the norm in pharmacies across the country. Altogether, this Kerr Drug operation offers a state-of-the-art pharmacy in a regional chain store setting. It underscores the possibilities of store evolution—and all that a regional chain store has to offer both the public and a new pharmacist.