CPHS Dean Dr. Sharrel Pinto Joins Walgreens Advisory Council in a Bold Move to Reshape Pharmacy Education and Practice

College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

CPHS Dean Dr. Sharrel Pinto Joins Walgreens Advisory Council in a Bold Move to Reshape Pharmacy Education and Practice

March 25, 2024 | by Clara LoCricchio

In a significant step towards addressing the evolving challenges in the pharmacy sector, the Dean of Belmont's College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Dr. Sharrel Pinto, has been selected as a member of the newly formed Walgreens Deans Advisory Council. This initiative by Walgreens comes at a time when the pharmacy profession is grappling with staffing shortages and pharmacy schools are facing declining enrollment. 

Dr. Pinto, known for her innovative approaches to healthcare and education, brings over two decades of experience to the council. Her extensive background in transdisciplinary practice and community-based problem-solving is expected to be instrumental in the Council's mission.

"It's an honor to be part of this pioneering group of pharmacy leaders," said Dr. Pinto. "Community pharmacy is at the center of all we do in health care. As pharmacists, we cannot serve our communities unless the current practice model evolves to meet the needs of our patients and our pharmacy workforce. I look forward to representing Belmont and my region as we work collaboratively to address these pressing challenges in the world of community practice." 

The Council's formation is a response to alarming trends in the pharmacy profession. Pharmacy school applications have seen a sharp decline, dropping 22% in the 2022-23 academic year when compared to the previous year, reflecting a more significant trend of decreased interest over the past decade. This downturn coincides with an increasing demand for pharmacy services, highlighting the need for innovative solutions. 

“Collaboration within the pharmacy profession has never been more important,” said Rick Gates, Walgreens' chief pharmacy officer, in the company’s announcement. “I’m grateful to the many academic leaders who have joined the Deans Advisory Council as we work to transform the future of pharmacy.” 

Dr. Pinto's inclusion in the Council is particularly noteworthy for Belmont University and its College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. Her work at Belmont, and previously across multiple states such as South Dakota, Ohio and Florida, has been marked by a commitment to integrating clinical training with community practice, a philosophy that aligns well with the Council's objectives. 

One of the Council's primary goals is to rebuild the talent pipeline, focusing on recruitment efforts right from the high school level. Dr. Pinto's experience in fostering an early interest in pharmacy careers made her a target addition to the Council. Under her leadership, initiatives at Belmont have successfully bridged the gap between academic training and real-world healthcare challenges. 

The Council also aims to transform community pharmacy into a preferred practice setting. It is no surprise they selected Dr. Pinto, a 2021 recipient of the Community Pharmacy Innovation in Quality (CPIQ) Award, bestowed by The Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA) and the Community Pharmacy Foundation (CPF). Her contributions to community pharmacy have demonstrated improved outcomes through value-based care and medication optimization, which positions her as a key player in driving this transformation. 

"Pharmacists are often the first point of contact in healthcare, and frequently the only practitioner that patients have consistent contact with when they pick up their medications. This is especially true in underserved communities," Dr. Pinto noted. "It's essential that we not only attract more students to this field but also ensure that their training is aligned with the evolving needs of our communities. As healthcare evolves, pharmacy organizations and academic institutions must work together to meet the needs of our pharmacy staff and communities. Training pharmacists with an entrepreneurial mindset who can advocate and lead change across their communities will be imperative.” 

With the first meeting scheduled for this month, the Council is poised to tackle these challenges head-on. The inclusion of a dynamic leader like Dr. Pinto is a testament to Belmont's growing influence in shaping the future of pharmacy education and practice.