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Walgreens partners with colleges to advance pharmacy profession

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

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., vice president of pharmacy practice at Walgreens and Angela Kashuba, Dean, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and Lorri Walmsley, director of Walgreens pharmacy affairs. 

Pharmacists have been a cornerstone of health care 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, pharmacy is facing a pronounced labor shortage. 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, Walgreens noted.

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, Walgreens said.

[Read more: Walgreens leaders make 10 healthcare industry predictions for 2024

“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,” Gates said. “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.” 

[Watch DSN: The future of health care and pharmacy at Walgreens]

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. 




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