Walmart Offers Unique Counseling Opportunities
Pharmacy clinical services managers administer vaccines, provide education, and serve as leaders in the profession.
Walmart pharmacists are becoming leaders in COVID-19 vaccine administration across the country, further demonstrating their important role in medication therapy management (MTM) services through immunizations.
As part of the CDC’s Federal Retail Pharmacy Program for COVID-19 Vaccination, Walmart is 1 of 21 national pharmacy partners across the United States.1 The company began administering COVID-19 vaccines on February 12, 2021, and now offers them at more than 1400 pharmacies in 35 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington DC.2,3
“Ninety percent of the country live within 10 miles of a Walmart,” Cheryl Pegus, MD, executive vice president of health and wellness at Walmart, said in a statement. “We’re at the heart of many rural and underserved communities, and we are committed to providing access to vaccines as groups become eligible.”
Additionally, Walmart started a COVID-19 vaccine drive to reach more residents in vulnerable communities at 43 locations across 18 states. These include drive-through locations at offsite events in partnership with community organizations, in-store locations, and Walmart parking lots.3 As the role of community pharmacists continues to evolve, evidence shows that pharmacists prefer performing MTM services, including point-of-care testing and vaccinations, and delegating other activities to pharmacy technicians.4
Pharmacy Clinical Services Managers
The pharmacy clinical services manager (PCSM) is a new position within Walmart with a goal of providing comprehensive patient care through administering immunizations, analyzing pharmacy data to determine clinical services, and performing MTM services and other responsibilities (see Figure).5 Additionally, the PCSM consults with business partners, coworkers, and managers to improve cost effectiveness and efficiency and to support community outreach events.5 Other PCSM tasks include ensuring that pharmacy staff members are compliant with federal and state pharmacy laws and regulations, organizing community health events, and responding to clinical and compliance questions from pharmacists. Individuals interested in applying for a PCSM position should have the following minimum qualifications: a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy, or a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree, or the equivalent by having completed the Foreign Pharmacy Graduate Examination Committee certification program; 1 year of experience practicing as a licensed pharmacist; and completion of
the American Pharmacists Association’s Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery certificate program.5
In interviews, Hieu Khuc, PharmD, and Antonella Lezark, PharmD, discussed their roles as PCSMs at Walmart and the positive effect they have on patient care.
“We are the teachers and trainers of our pharmacy associates on any new clinical services and topics such as point-of-care testing, adherence, COVID-19 testing, COVID-19 vaccines, and technician immunization training, just to name a few. We are the go-to subject matter experts and are looked upon as leaders and problem solvers,” Lezark said.
“Being new to the role, the most rewarding part by far is when a pharmacy associate understands and appreciates the concept behind the task. For example, calling our patients to remind them to pick up their blood pressure medication is the task, but the concept behind it is to assist them in reducing their risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke,” she continued. “We are part of the process in improving their quality of life.”
Lezark provided advice for pharmacists interested in becoming PCSMs. She recommends they review relevant pharmacy topics, such as new drugs, recent legislation affecting practice, and updated guidelines.
“Just like in any role, there will be challenges and obstacles along the way. It’s how you overcome those challenges and obstacles that will make you more equipped,” she explained.
“The role of a community pharmacist is expanding. I’m fortunate enough to work for and represent a company that invests in the knowledge and training of their pharmacists and technicians,” Lezark said.
“The most rewarding part of a PCSM position is learning and teaching. Our team depends on us to be subject matter experts and we set a standard for ourselves to be just that,” Khuc said. “Our position allows us to learn and share the knowledge that we have gained to train our pharmacy team.”
Individuals should be good communicators and team players. Additionally, being able to offer creative and innovative ideas is important for those interested in PCSM positions.
“The best ideas can come from anywhere, so we must listen to those ideas and help them to shine. We have heard this phrase before but how many companies act on it?” Khuc asked.
“The greatest asset of a company is the employees. When a company invests time and training to allow their employees to grow, then the company benefits,” she noted. “Many perspectives create different ways of thinking and position the company to adapt to changes. When Walmart created the PCSM position, it spoke volumes on how much the company is investing in its people.”
Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, is a drug information pharmacist and Pharmacy Times® contributor who resides in South Florida.
- Pharmacies participating in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. CDC. Updated April 23, 2021. Accessed May 4, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/retail-pharmacy-program/participating-pharmacies.html
- Walmart and Sam’s Club pharmacies administer COVID-19 vaccines through Federal Retail Pharmacy Program. News release. Walmart. February 9, 2021. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2021/02/09/walmart-and-sams-club-pharmacies-administer-covid-19-vaccines-through-federal-retail-pharmacy-program
- Walmart launches COVID-19 vaccine drive to reach more residents in vulnerable communities. News release. Walmart. February 25, 2021. Accessed March 10, 2021. https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2021/02/25/walmart-launches-covid-19-vaccine-drive-to-reach-more-residents-in-vulnerable-communities
- Hohmeier KC, Wheeler J, Heintz K, Gatwood J. Community pharmacist workflow and medication therapy management delegation: an assessment of preferences and barriers. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2020;60(6):e215-e223. doi:10.1016/j.japh.2020.07.024
- Manager, pharmacy clinical services. Walmart. Accessed March 10, 2021.https://careers.walmart.com/us/jobs/WD430292-manager-pharmacy-clinical-services