PHARMACISTS ARE CORE OF RITE AID BUSINESS

Pharmacy Careers, Volume 0, 0

Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Although Rite Aid operatesmore than 5000 stores, when it comesto pharmacy services, the chain's approachis still very personal. Thechain's focus on clinical services,patient interaction, and professionalgrowth sets the chain apart from thecompetition.

"Community pharmacy is a veryinteresting side of pharmacy," saidMichele Belsey, vice president of collegerelations and professional recruitmentfor the chain. "Rite Aidpharmacists have regular contactwith patients and can really makea difference in their patients' lives."

Offering clinical services helpspharmacists play a big role in theirpatients' health care. "Our definitivein-house clinical services division is abig niche for us," said Belsey. "Wetrain our pharmacists across a numberof clinical areas, such as immunization,diabetes, asthma, and hypertensionmanagement. It is an areain which we excel as a company." Thecompany trains its pharmaciststhrough group sessions, one-on-oneinstruction, and self-paced continuingeducation.

Rite Aid also gives pharmacists thesupport they need to spend moretime with patients in the pharmacy."It is important to have a strongpharmacy team, from techs to internsto pharmacy preceptors, so that pharmacistshave the time to spend withpatients," said Belsey.

Rite Aid's in-house drug informationcenter, staffed by Rite Aid pharmacists,provides professional supporton key issues such as compounding,pediatric dosing, unlabeleduse, and drug interactions."The drug information center is agreat professional resource," saidBelsey. "Our pharmacists alwaysknow they have professional supportfrom an internal resource so they donot need to look outside for help."

Rite Aid's commitment to its pharmacistsextends to its reporting structure.The chain's small pharmacyoperating districts ensure that pharmacistshave easy access to theirsupervisors—managers who arepharmacists themselves. "We are purepharmacy, so pharmacists report toother pharmacists," said Belsey.

Belsey said that having the rightpharmacists onboard has allowedRite Aid to continue to excel inpatient service. "We are looking forpharmacists who want to show initiativein this area," she said. "Our pharmacistssee patients on a regular basisso they become important membersof a patients' health care team."

That is 1 reason Rite Aid placesmost new pharmacists in 1 store,rather than hire them as floaters."Some chains float new pharmacists,but we do not like to do that," saidBelsey. "We want them to get startedspending time with patients and gettingto know them personally."

Being a large national chain doeshave its advantages. With more than5000 stores across the United States,Rite Aid offers plenty of careeradvancement. "We like to see pharmacistsgo into pharmacy managerpositions—we have 5100 of those.Then, there are 216 pharmacy districtmanager roles, 24 pharmacy regionalvice presidents, and 1 senior vicepresident of pharmacy operations,"said Belsey.

A Rite Aid pharmacist's career cantake many other directions. Positionsin operations, clinical services, humanresources, government affairs,third party reimbursement, managedcare, and drug information are justsome of the possibilities.

Belsey said that, as a large nationalchain, Rite Aid can offer its pharmacistsmany lifestyle advantages. "Ourmedical and dental package is availableon the first of the month as soon asgraduate interns or pharmacists arehired—there is not a long waiting period.Pharmacists also can start investingin a 401(k) plan within 90 days, andevery contribution is 100% fully vestedon the first contribution. Other companiesdo not offer that benefit," saidBelsey. Mortgage, cell phone, and carloan discounts are among the otherbenefits available to employees.

The chain is committed to its pharmacistsbecause they are the core ofthe company's business. "Our pharmacistsset us apart from our competitors.They take the time to interactwith their patients and help them livehealthier and happier lives," saidBelsey."Without our pharmacists, RiteAid would be just another chain."