CVS rolls out tuition assistance, scholarship programs for pharmacists

CVS Health is aiming to bolster the pharmacy workforce with new scholarship and tuition assistance programs for people looking to enter the field.

The company's new Pharm.D. assistance program will be available to all graduates who intern with CVS as of April 30, according to an announcement, and they're eligible to apply for an award of up to $20,000 applicable to their final year of tuition. 

CVS said it plans to grow the program in the fall and will make it available to interns in their last two years of pharmacy training, offering up to $20,000 toward each of those years while they intern for the company. The program will also provide participants opportunities throughout the year to "obtain valuable experience before starting their post-graduate professional career in pharmacy," CVS said.

“As leaders in community pharmacy, we are committed to investing in the future of pharmacy, particularly to support the next generation of students with financial assistance and hands-on experience necessary to further their careers,” said Prem Shah, executive vice president and chief pharmacy officer at CVS Health.

“We recognize the strong, enduring bond between pharmacists and the communities they serve," Shah added. "CVS Pharmacy will continue to advance the practice of pharmacy and provide more opportunities for students to enter this important area of health care.”

CVS released a report on the state of community pharmacy earlier this year and found that applications to pharmacy school have decreased by more than 60% in the past decade. That trend in combination with the greater need for pharmacists working in communities drove the decision to launch the new programs, the company said.

The new scholarship program is offered in partnership with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy and will award $20,000 to 21 trainee pharmacists who encounter financial challenges while pursuing an education.

The goal, CVS said, is to support students who will need to care for a diverse patient population and play a key role in the care team. Potential scholarship award winners must show leadership skills, academic performance, financial need and a "commitment to advancing the profession of pharmacy and patient care."

Offering the scholarship program also allows CVS to continue working with pharmacy school deans to determine what the pathway to the future looks like, according to the release.

“Providing culturally competent care is critical to meeting the needs of the many different communities we serve,” Shah said. “Our goal is to recruit candidates who are advocates for health equity and the well-being of their patients.”