Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Amanda Bidlencik, RPh
Walgreens offers a range ofopportunities that fit the practicepreferences of any pharmacist. "Weare at a point as a company that, nomatter how you want to practice, wehave a position for you," said AmandaBidlencik, RPh, Walgreens' managerof pharmacy relations. "We have fulltimeand part-time pharmacists,pharmacists who work overnight,and mail-order pharmacists."
The company haspharmacies locatedwithin medical centersand clinics—even a Toyota plant.Although Walgreensretail drugstoresremain the biggestpart of the company'sbusiness, innovative,new areas ofthe pharmacy business have beengrowing at this national chain.
The Walgreens Health Servicesdivision encompasses 4 branches: thecompany's mail-order operation; thepharmacy benefits business; the specialtypharmacy; and home care."Since we purchased OptionCare, ahome care division, we now havepharmacists working in that fieldwith durable medical equipment andinfusions," said Bidlencik. "Throughour pharmacy benefit managementbusiness, we have clinical pharmacistswho develop MTM [medicationtherapy management] programs thatare used in our stores."
On-site clinics are a growing part ofthe company's business. Walgreensnow operates about 50 pharmacieshoused in hospitals, medical centers,or large businesses (eg, Toyota). "Ouron-site clinic managers build relationshipswith physicians in theselocations, and they are really valued asexperts in their field," said Bidlencik.
Community pharmacy is, of course,Walgreens' biggest business. "We arereally focused on MTM," said Bidlencik."I think it is significant that morethan 2000 of our pharmacists werelicensed to give immunizations thisyear. We put a lot of emphasis onmaking sure that pharmacy is still thecore of our business. We are leadersin technology and put a lot ofresources into training and developmentand dump a lot of resourcesinto technology to help pharmacistsdo their jobs."Walgreens has adoptedprograms that allow pharmacists todocument how they have counseledpatients; therefore, the next time theysee a patient, they can have that informationat their fingertips. "Our pharmacistsget to spend a lot of time withpatients so they get to build relationshipswith their patients and physicians,ensuring their position as solidplayers on a health care team," saidBidlencik.
Proper training for pharmacy technicianshelps to keep the workflowmoving smoothly so pharmacists canhave more time with patients. "Technicianstechnically fill the prescriptions,and pharmacists are responsiblefor verification and product identificationso the rest of their time canbe spent counseling," said Bidlencik.
Pharmacists can be sure they havethe full support of store management."Our store managers aretrained to help in the pharmacydepartment," said Bidlencik. "Since67% of our sales come from the pharmacy,store management shouldabsolutely be engaged in how thingswork in that department." Uppermanagement also supports the pharmacyfunction. "Every 25 to 30 storesare overseen by a pharmacy supervisorwho is there to provide guidance.They are also in charge of developingthese pharmacists. We have the peopleand the resources to buildcareers," she said.
Indeed, the scope of Walgreensbusiness allows its pharmacists tomove in many directions and developtheir careers in a variety of ways.With stores in 49 states and newoperations continuing to grow, thepossibilities are plentiful.
"A lot of the people who work inWalgreens Health Service started outin the stores, and some go back to thestores after working in one of theclinical or mail-order settings," saidBidlencik. "When these new opportunitiesbecome available, as an internalcandidate, it is easy to transitionto a different practice setting or moveto another part of the country."