Excellence in Patient Care Award Winner: Gavin Kivisto, PharmD

JULY 20, 2015
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor
Gavin Kivisto, PharmD, this year’s winner of the Walmart Pharmacist Excellence in Patient Care Award, has dedicated himself to providing his patients with individualized care.

“Gavin Kivisto exemplifies the attributes that truly make a great community pharmacist. He is a leader among his peers and regarded as the subject matter expert in daily pharmacy operations,” said Dr. Kivisto’s mentor and former supervisor, Ken Petersen. “He demonstrates a simple yet effective philosophy of knowing each of his patients by name, greeting them personally, and making every attempt to ensure each customer is fully appreciated.”

A 2000 graduate of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, Dr. Kivisto was initially inspired to become a pharmacist by his uncle, with whom he worked after earning his PharmD. While Dr. Kivisto achieved considerable success early in his career, a deep personal tragedy forced him to reassess his approach to patient care.

“Everything changed for me after my parents passed away,” he told Pharmacy Times. “The hard times that I went through made me approach my patients differently. I truly began to empathize with my patients and ensure that I treated them like I would treat my parents.” As a pharmacy manager for Walmart Pharmacy, Dr. Kivisto focused his efforts on providing his patients with quality clinical services. After he became certified as an immunization trainer, his store was selected as 1 of 12 pilot stores for immunization, with him and his team ultimately leading the company in immunizations last year.

“Gavin is constantly progressing in attaining higher levels of professional skills in communication, pharmacybased immunization administration, and medication therapy management,” Petersen explained. “He champions new initiatives and processes to ensure his pharmacy delivers the highest level of quality patient care and operates in full compliance with company policies and procedures.”

Recently, Dr. Kivisto succeeded Petersen as Market Health and Wellness Director at Walmart, a role that has enabled him to cultivate his talents as a leader while continuously working to improve patient care.

“In his current role as Market Health and Wellness Director, his leadership skills are becoming even more evident,” Petersen said. “This new opportunity will allow him to further demonstrate his talent and create an even greater impact through a larger arena.”

Q: What do you think is the most important issue in the field of pharmacy today, and why?
Pharmacists are the most accessible and trusted health care provider, so I see the push for provider status gaining traction. Pharmacists have already proven their value in providing disease state management, immunizations, therapy management, and many other patient care services. Several pharmacy organizations are working to educate legislators on what collaboration with pharmacists can bring to public health and continuity of patient care.

Q: What advice do you have for other pharmacists?
If you are working in a community pharmacy setting, get to know your patients names. It is a simple thing: know your patients, and build a relationship that will make your day more pleasant and your patients more likely to maintain their loyalty.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring pharmacists?
Work in some type of pharmacy setting, as much as possible, during pharmacy school. Most pharmacy students are focused on gaining knowledge through study, but don’t realize that working facilitates your learning and creates opportunities for more fruitful, job-specific knowledge.

Q: What do you think is the most important quality for a pharmacist to possess?
Empathy. We, pharmacists as a group, can get too clinical, too focused on numbers, and forget about the people we are treating. We need to focus on our patients and treat them one patient at a time. We should treat them like they are one of our family members.

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