Matt Frederick’s roots in the pharmacy community of northwestern Ohio go extremely deep. Frederick, who has been named Walmart’s Market Health and Wellness Director of the Year for 2013, went to Ohio Northern University College of Pharmacy in Ada. After a 4-year stint in South Carolina, he worked as a pharmacist in Sandusky and Fremont before being promoted to Market Health and Wellness Director in 1991. Today, he oversees the pharmacies and vision centers in 13 Walmart stores throughout the region.
Despite these roots, Frederick has not hesitated to branch out, temporarily covering markets in Maine and Oregon and participating in relief efforts in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. “To see pictures is one thing, to be there and experience it is something I will never forget,” he says. “What impressed me most were those pharmacists and technicians that lost everything yet came in to that double-wide trailer every day and worked to take care of their neighbors who they felt needed their help more than they needed it themselves.”
Known as a mentor throughout the company, Frederick emphasizes the importance of listening to one’s employees. “The associates work hard for our customers every day, and if we just listen to them they can tell us how we can do it even better,” he says. “I also believe you need to care about your people. We will always have numbers that we need to meet, but I believe that if we take care of our people that they will take care of the numbers for us.”
Although Frederick may come across as serious and driven, he is very family-oriented and emphasizes the importance of developing a good work-life balance. Among his favorite hobbies is to ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle with his wife. “Two of my most memorable moments are racing a moose down the highway in Alaska and riding into Normandy with a group from the Limburg HOG chapter from the Netherlands,” he says. “I couldn’t help but think how Americans were arriving at that same location 65 years earlier. It was a sobering thought.”
Q: What do you think is the most important issue in pharmacy today?
A: Providing affordable health care to people continues to be a significant issue in all areas of health care, and I am proud that our $4/$10 list of generic medications has given our patients the opportunity to afford to be compliant with their medications. Combining affordable medicines with the counseling we provide on all prescriptions continues to drive both compliance and positive outcomes for our patients. Pharmacists continue to be the most accessible health care professionals on a daily basis, and accepting this role as pharmacists and as a company is something I am very proud of.
Q: What advice would you give a young pharmacist just starting out in the profession?
A: Focus on your patients’ outcomes. Teach your technicians to handle all the technical duties in your department so you can focus on those professional duties that your license allows only you to do.
You have earned your position, yet you need to earn the respect of your team and your peers. And finally, work on your work-life balance, which is critical to a long and successful career as a pharmacist.
Q: How do your roots in your area’s pharmacy community help you do a better job?
A: I have been in my current role for the past 21 years, yet I still run into patients that I met in my first year with Walmart. I think that having roots in the community you serve is so important in pharmacy. When a patient comes to the pharmacy and asks for their pharmacist by name, the pharmacist knows they have been able to impact that patient, and they most likely now have a patient for life. It is hard to develop loyal patients when health care is so expensive and there are so many options out there to choose from, but I see my pharmacists do it every day. And it is those customers and patients that keep you coming back to work day after day. There is a satisfaction in this type of service that you can never forget.