Organizational culture is critical to the success of a pharmacy

Promoting a positive organizational culture is an essential requirement for the effective management of a community pharmacy.

Traveling to a distant country and observing significant cultural differences can be an awesome experience. Upon further thought and reflection, it becomes clear that even small cultural differences can lead to noticeable changes in the way a society works. But how about an organization? Whether at the organizational or societal level, culture is a holistic, all-encompassing blanket that defines and affects behaviors and outcomes.

Rosenthal and Holmes assessed the relationship between the professional culture of community pharmacies and the implementation of MTM services.1 This study, which used a national sample of pharmacies that responded to a survey, demonstrated a significant relationship between the provision of MTM services (immunizations, medication course reviews, disease management, etc.) and 6 organizational culture factors: social responsibility, innovation, people orientation, competitiveness, attention to detail and rewards orientation.

Reward orientation refers to the culture of a given organization that emphasizes achievement by rewarding employees. Although terms like competitiveness and innovation generally have broad meanings, they basically refer to how a pharmacy sets itself apart from the competition and how certain programs such as the minor ailments service, manufacturing therapeutic substitutions and drug optimization can help transform the role of the pharmacy community.

Promoting a positive organizational culture is an essential requirement for the effective management of a community pharmacy. By establishing a positive work culture, not only can you transform your work environment into a more pleasant workspace for your team, but by addressing the 6 factors mentioned above, you can more effectively and successfully implement MTM services, create a more pleasant atmosphere for patients, and potentially diversify your sources of income. There is other research that demonstrates the importance of organizational culture on various pharmacy and patient outcomes, such as the likelihood of prescribing successfully and the adoption of a professional practice sensitive to health literacy.2.3

Some educational programs have been developed to foster skills and mindsets that help lead to a more positive organizational culture. One such program, called Educating Pharmacists in Quality (EPIQ), is offered free of charge by the Pharmacy Quality Alliance. The program was designed to stimulate innovation and other important factors. These and other non-pharmaceutical sources can help pharmacy leaders understand the dramatic impact that organizational culture plays on a myriad of outcomes. Everyone contributes to organizational culture, not just managers; however, the manager can set the tone for positive contributions from staff and even patients.

Additional information about Organizational structure and behavior can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Sina Hosseini, is a PharmD candidate at the University of Touro in California.

Shane P. Deselle, PhD, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at the University of Touro in California.


1. Rosenthal MM, Holmes ER. The professional culture of community pharmacy and MTM service delivery. Pharmacy. 2018; 6(2):25.

2. Rosenthal MM, Houle SK, Eberhart G, Tsuyuki RT. Pharmacist prescribing in Alberta and its relationship to culture and personality traits. Res Social Admin Pharm. 2015;11(3):401-411.

3. Shoemaker SJ, Staub-DeLong L, Wasserman M, Spranca M. Factors affecting adoption and implementation of AHRQ health literacy tools in pharmacies. Res Social Admin Pharm. 2013;9(5):553-563.