Walgreens Partners With Colleges of Pharmacy to Advance the Pharmacy Profession

The Walgreens Deans Advisory Council will collaborate to address key issues, including staffing challenges and decreasing pharmacy school enrollment

February 5, 2024

4 mins read

DEERFIELD, Ill., Feb. 5, 2024 – As a trusted, convenient local healthcare destination that millions of Americans rely on every day, Walgreens is expanding its long-standing relationships with colleges of pharmacy through the formation of the Walgreens Deans Advisory Council to enhance the pharmacy profession and better support pharmacists as they provide valuable care to their local communities.

The new Council, consisting of 17 pharmacy school deans and Walgreens leadership, is sponsored by Rick Gates, Chief Pharmacy Officer at Walgreens, co-chaired by John Colaizzi Jr., PharmD, FNJPhA, Vice President, Pharmacy Practice at Walgreens and Angela Kashuba, Dean, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and Lorri Walmsley, Director, Walgreens Pharmacy Affairs, who will serve as the vice chair. 

Pharmacists have been a cornerstone of healthcare in communities across the United States for decades, providing timely interventions and filling gaps in care. While the demand for pharmacy services is expected to increase over the next several years, like many other healthcare entities and a wide range of other industries, pharmacy is facing a pronounced labor shortage.1 Pharmacy school applications were down 22% in 2022-2023 compared to the previous year and have decreased by more than 60% over the past decade.2,3 The pharmacy operating model needs to evolve, and pharmacy school deans are critical partners in helping Walgreens and the industry overall solve for the current workplace challenges that are also impacting pharmacy school enrollment. 

“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,” said Gates. “I look forward to working with the deans to ensure Walgreens expands our reach beyond neighborhood pharmacies into the fast-growing areas of healthcare and drives outcomes that matter most to our pharmacists, patients and partners.”

Members of the Council will meet quarterly with the goal of identifying ways to attract, recruit and create a dynamic workplace for current and future pharmacists. The Council’s initial objectives include: 

Rebuilding the talent pipeline and focusing on recruitment efforts, including through programs that expose high school students to careers in pharmacy. 

Elevating community pharmacy as a practice setting of choice through direct feedback from colleges. 

Addressing staffing challenges and helping pharmacists experience greater job satisfaction and better patient interactions. 

Evolving the community pharmacy business model and advocating for pharmacist practitioner services.

Advising on all aspects of community pharmacy strategy, practice and administration-related topics.

“As the recent pandemic highlighted, pharmacists are the most accessible, trusted healthcare providers. They serve as the front door to health in their communities, yet community pharmacy remains one of healthcare’s most underutilized resources,” said Kashuba. “Our schools train pharmacists to fill healthcare 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.”

The Council will serve as a sounding board and play a key role in helping Walgreens build upon recent initiatives deployed by the company to reimagine the community pharmacy operating model. These include leveraging centralized services and micro-fulfillment, deploying flexible store and staffing models and eliminating all task-based retail metrics from annual performance reviews.

The Council’s first meeting is scheduled for early March 2024.

About Walgreens

Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is included in the United States segment of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), an integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail leader serving millions of customers and patients every day, with a 170-year heritage of caring for communities. As America’s most loved pharmacy, health and beauty company, Walgreens purpose is to champion the health and well-being of every community in America. Operating nearly 9,000 retail locations across America, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Walgreens is proud to be a neighborhood health destination serving approximately 9 million customers each day. Walgreens pharmacists play a critical role in the U.S. healthcare system by providing a wide range of pharmacy and healthcare services. To best meet the needs of customers and patients, Walgreens offers a true omnichannel experience, with fully integrated physical and digital platforms supported by the latest technology to deliver high-quality products and services in local communities nationwide.

[1] Statista. Total number of retail prescriptions filled annually in the United States from 2013 to 2025 (in billions). https://www.statista.com/statistics/261303/total-number-of-retail-prescriptions-filled-annually-in-the-us/

[2] The Pharmacy Graduate Application Service. 2022-2023 PharmGrad Applicant Data Report. https://connect.aacp.org/discussion/2022-2023-pharmgrad-applicant-data-report

[3] Brown DL. Years of Rampant Expansion Have Imposed Darwinian Survival-of-the-Fittest Conditions on US Pharmacy Schools. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020 Oct;84(10):ajpe8136. https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe8136

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