Owensboro’s Olusola keynote speaker at KPhA meeting, advocating for change in retail pharmacy

May 2, 2022 | 12:10 am

Updated May 2, 2022 | 7:43 am

Candace Olusola

Owensboro’s Candace Olusola will be the keynote speaker for the 2022 Kentucky Pharmacists Association Annual Meeting. She has quite the resume, obtaining her Pharm. D. from the University of Kentucky and masters degree in public health from the esteemed George Washington University. 

Olusola began working at Walgreens as a Health Outcomes Pharmacist in 2020 during the height of the pandemic. While employed, she made constant efforts to grow her “side business,” which consisted of life coaching, paid speaking engagements, and more. 

As her business and podcast – craftily titled First Paso – continued to grow and evolve, she left the retail pharmacy world to pursue her passion: advocating and empowering others. She joined the efforts of Bled Tanoe, Pharm. D., who incited a movement within the industry through the hashtag #PizzaIsNotWorking. 

“(Tanoe) left working at Walgreens around the same time as me. We shared mutual views about chain pharmacies and the industry as a whole,” Olusola said. “We want to stand up and advocate for patients, pharmacists, and technicians, and encourage them to stand up for themselves.”

Olusola traces her pharmaceutical career back to her time as an intern before finishing her degree, working for Walgreens, and completing rotations in various pharmacy settings during her tenure. She said her experiences dramatically brought the public health perspective of the field to the forefront.

She began piecing together what she heard from other professionals and the public and paired that with her experiences to know that something had to change. With many in the profession struggling, she said it was evident that “celebratory pizzas” hardly offset the increased workload, shortened work hours, understaffing, burnout, and store closures. 

“The industry already had its pitfalls – the pandemic only exacerbated them,” Olusola said. “What the chain leaders are saying doesn’t align with what we hear from patients and professionals.”

In her push for change, Olusola is steadfast in her efforts to approach the issues from multiple perceptions. She said their efforts aren’t meant to invoke resentment from bosses but to facilitate opportunities for healthy discussions and proactive change. 

She added that limited protection for pharmacy staff and the looming healthcare crisis play a pivotal role in the mass exodus from the profession. The hashtag created by Tanoe exists as a platform to combat retaliation from the chains that, at times, instill fear in employees. 

“We hope that corporate pharmacy managers are willing to listen to and work with us and not perceive us as a threat or an attack,” Olusola said. “We all need to be honest about what’s happening. Within the last 10-plus years, those who have been striving yet hindered to work at the top of our license in retail, have strategies that could safely cater to every generation of patient and staff member. So, if corporate leaders want to see this movement as the enemy, that is a choice they are making, not us.”

Olusola desires to collaborate with pharmacies and bring them into the 21st century while keeping patients as the focal point. She said the chains are doing some innovative things and that it’s time for those to translate to the everyday operations. 

As part of the KY Pharmacists Association’s annual meeting and convention in June, Olusola will deliver the keynote address. She will provide a general motivational speech on the first day, while her second speech will focus more on tips of the trade. 

“I want to encourage everyone to love their life and know exactly who they are,” Olusola said. “On the next day, my speech targets pharmacists trusting who they are in the profession. I want them to understand that by advocating for themselves, they are advocating for their patients.”

Connect with Olusola on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. View her bio and access her podcast, First Paso, at CandaceOlusola.com

“If anyone (pharmacist, intern, technician, and even community member) wants to join the efforts of PINW, they can email us at [email protected],” Olusola said. “We have a protection code, so you can email and join us safely without fear of retaliation, knowing that those who choose to stay anonymous to the public but known by our team will stay that way, and those who don’t mind being an open participant are encouraged to do and be so.” 

The PINW team will also have a booth at the KPhA meeting, and she welcomes pharmacists to come and speak with them in person.

May 2, 2022 | 12:10 am

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