Walgreens Focuses Attention on Pharmacy School Enrollment With Walgreens Deans Advisory Council

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The company said the council members will meet quarterly to identify ways to attract, recruit, and create a dynamic workplace for both current and future pharmacists.

Walgreens Boots Alliance has created the Walgreens Deans Advisory Council, aimed at strengthening relationships with colleges of pharmacy across the United States, according to a press release from the company. The goal of the advisory council is to better support pharmacists’ care to their local communities.1

 Hospital, profession, pharmacists in pharmacy school class | Image Credit: Mediteraneo - stock.adobe.com

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“Collaboration within the pharmacy profession has never been more important, and I’m grateful to the many academic leaders who have joined the Deans Advisory Council as we work to transform the future of pharmacy,” Rick Gates, BSPharm, chief pharmacy officer at Walgreens, said in the press release. “I look forward to working with the deans to ensure Walgreens expands our reach beyond neighborhood pharmacies into the fast-growing areas of health care and drives outcomes that matter most to our pharmacists, patients, and partners.”1

3 Key Takeaways

  1. Walgreens Boots Alliance has established the Walgreens Deans Advisory Council, comprising 17 deans of pharmacy from various institutions across the United States.
  2. The council's primary focus is to identify strategies for attracting and recruiting future pharmacists while creating a dynamic workplace for current pharmacists. Initial objectives include rebuilding talent pipelines, advocating for provider status, and advising on community pharmacy strategies and administration.
  3. Through collaboration with the council, Walgreens intends to reshape its community pharmacy operation model, involving leveraging centralized services, micro-fulfillment, and flexible staffing models to enhance patient care and satisfaction while eliminating task-based metrics in performance reviews.

The council includes 17 deans of pharmacy and is co-chaired by Gates; John Colaizzi Jr, PharmD, FNJPhA, vice president of pharmacy practice at Walgreens; and Angela Kashuba, PharmD, dean of the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lorri Walmsley, RPh, FAzPA, director of Walgreens Pharmacy Affairs, is the vice chair, according to the press release.1

According to a commentary in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, the number of applicants to pharmacy schools has been declining since 2013 in the United States, and this trend is somewhat attributable to private schools, schools without an academic medical center, schools that opened after 2000, and schools using accelerated 3-year programs. Further, the authors stated that since 2012, the average enrollment of the entering class has dropped from 124 to about 102, according to data from 2020.2

The council members will meet quarterly to identify ways to attract, recruit, and create a dynamic workplace for both current and future pharmacists, the press release said. The initial objectives will focus on rebuilding talent in the pipeline through programs exposing high school students to careers in pharmacy; using community pharmacies as practice settings; addressing staff challenges; helping pharmacists increase satisfaction and bolster patient interactions; evolving the community pharmacy business model; advocating for provider status; and advising on community pharmacy strategies, practice, and administration topics, according to the press release.1

The council will also serve a key role in helping Walgreens build upon reimagining the company’s community pharmacy operation model. This includes leveraging centralized services and micro-fulfillment, deploying flexible store and staffing models, and eliminating task-based retail metrics in annual performance reviews, according to the press release.1

“As the recent pandemic highlighted, pharmacists are the most accessible, trusted health care providers. They serve as the front door to health in their communities, yet community pharmacy remains one of health care’s most underutilized resources,” Kashuba said in the press release. “Our schools train pharmacists to fill health care gaps and improve patient care through disease screening, prevention, and treatment. I’m excited to collaborate with Walgreens to better align workplace conditions with training to transform the future of community pharmacy.”1

The first meeting is scheduled to be held in early March 2024, according to the press release.1

References

  1. Walgreens partners with colleges of pharmacy to advance the pharmacy profession. News release. Walgreens Boots Alliance. February 5, 2024. Accessed February 6, 2024. https://www.walgreensbootsalliance.com/news-media/press-releases/2024/walgreens-partners-colleges-pharmacy-advance-pharmacy-profession#:~:text=DEERFIELD%2C%20Ill.%2C%20Feb.,the%20pharmacy%20profession%20and%20better
  2. Brown DL. Years of Rampant Expansion Have Imposed Darwinian Survival-of-the-Fittest Conditions on US Pharmacy Schools. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(10):ajpe8136. doi:10.5688/ajpe8136
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