WAL-MART PHARMACY: ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES

Pharmacy Careers, Volume 0, 0

A PHARMACY CAREER TAKESdedication and a desire to help individualsand improve the quality oftheir lives. Motivated individualswith a take-charge attitude may findthemselves calling Wal-Mart home.

"A pharmacy career with Wal-Martis your chance to own a business withouttaking the personal risks of owninga business. It gives you the opportunityto run and operate your own pharmacywith the power of Wal-Martbehind you," said Registered PharmacistJason Reiser, buyer, Sam's ClubOTC Products. Prior to his positionwith Sam's Club, Reiser served asdirector of pharmacy professionalservices and government relations forthe company. Wal-Mart and Sam'sClub were founded by Sam Walton.

In addition to practicing in Wal-Mart stores and Sam's Club, pharmacistsmay decide to practice in a varietyof other settings including mailorder, specialty pharmacy, clinics/pharmacies, Wal-Mart NeighborhoodMarkets, and the company'scorporate office. Currently,Wal-Martpharmacies are located in 49 stateswith 3800 locations.

Reiser is the perfect example of apharmacist taking advantage ofeverything Wal-Mart offers. Heworked in Maine and managed severalpharmacy departments. A promotiontook him to Princeton,NJ, wherehe served as a district manager. Hethen got involved in government,pharmacy boards, and lobbyingstate legislatures, whichtook him to the corporateoffice in Bentonville, Ark. "It'simpossible to be bored" withall the opportunities available,he said.

Pharmacy, considered one ofthe fastest growing fields in thehealth care industry, is a careerthat puts individuals on thefront line of patient care.Because pharmacists are consideredthe most accessiblehealth care professionals, thepharmacy is often the firstplace patients go with questionsabout medication andmedical care. As the field ofpharmacy advances, pharmacistswill play a more active rolein patient counseling and medicationtherapy. Pharmacistsare now viewed as part of apatient's health care teamassisting physicians to find theright medications to combat diseaseand help patients live healthier lives.

Experience is crucial to a successfulpharmacy career. Wal-Mart offers 2pharmacy internships for students.The store-based internship is a 12-week, comprehensive training programthat is tailored to the level ofthe education the student hasreceived:

  • The first-year professional studentwill learn about the Wal-Mart culture, operations, andserve as a pharmacy technician.The student works closely with asponsor and learns many facets ofthe pharmacy business, operations,and customer service.
  • The second-year professionalstudent will continue to learnabout the Wal-Mart culture,pharmacy operations, customerservice, and merchandising.
  • The third-year professional studentwill focus on pharmacy business,such as profit and loss, peoplemanagement, law, regulations, andwill complete a community andpatient-focused project.
  • The fourth-year professional studentwill spend more time on in-depthtraining in areas such asleadership, delegation, and management.In addition, the studentusually works on a businessbuilding project.

"We want someonethat feels theywant to continue topractice in the retailenvironment. Wehope they turn intofuture pharmacistsand future leaders ofthis company," commentedReiser aboutthe store internshipprogram.

The corporate internshipprogram allowsstudents to bepart of the "guts ofoperating a pharmacy" on the corporate level, explained Reiser. Because so much happensbehind the scenes in the world of pharmacy, students andpharmacists do not get to experience or learn these things in a normalpractice setting. The program allows up to 6 students to spendup to 12 weeks learning in a specialized area of pharmacy such as:

  • Professional services
  • Pharmacy merchandising
  • Pharmacy third party
  • Pharmacy training and development
  • Pharmacy recruiting

Reiser said hundreds of pharmacy students are participatingin the company's internship programs.While it is typical for apharmacy student to select one internship program, he recalledone student participating in both programs. Recruiting is a toppriority for Wal-Mart. The company has its own departmentfocused on recruiting that "filters to people on the ground," through activities such as campus visits and job fairs.

When it comes to hiring a retail pharmacist,Wal-Mart wants"someone that has the ability to deal with people, such as thepatients and associates," he said. "If they're a pharmacist andgood with people, we can train them to be a retail pharmacist."

Once on-board, pharmacists have access to a variety ofresources and support. Reiser said a complete training program isin place for every position in Wal-Mart pharmacies. For example,Wal-Mart offers on-the-job training, free continuing educationlessons, and a pharmacist letter via on-line access at the store.

Reiser said the face of pharmacy is changing. "School is goingto teach them [students] the technicalities of pharmacy. Pour,count, lick, and stick are going away with technology." Asidefrom interpersonal skills, pharmacists will need cognitive skillsespecially with medication therapy management services cominginto play. "Pharmacy is going to go from behind the counterto behind the desk counseling patients."

The feedback from Wal-Mart pharmacists is "overwhelminglypositive because they have the freedom to practice pharmacythe way they want. It's good for business because the patientsand pharmacists love it," concluded Reiser.