Western University of Health Sciences College of Pharmacy celebrated a new relationship with Cardinal Health that emphasizes the vital role of independent community pharmacists.

Cardinal Health is a top distributor of pharmaceutical and other medical supplies and equipment in the U.S., helping pharmacies, hospitals and ambulatory care sites focus on patient care while reducing costs.

The WesternU College of Pharmacy is one of eight pharmacy schools across the country to receive funding through the Cardinal Health Pharmacy Scholarship Program this year. The company has donated more than $2.1 million to 20 universities through the scholarship program since its launch in June 2011.

Cardinal Health representatives Bill Hayden and Andrew Grant presented a $125,000 gift to the College of Pharmacy on Sept. 20, 2012.

“It is really exciting for us to have their support, which we are going to use to provide scholarships for students pursuing their dream of a career in independent community pharmacy,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Daniel Robinson, PharmD, FASHP. “Cardinal Health is becoming a wonderful partner for us. They supported our recent White Coat ceremony at Convocation, they are participating in our coursework, and they are looking for other ways to help our students. We’re very excited about our new relationship.”

“We picked the WesternU College of Pharmacy because of their commitment to community pharmacy,” said Bill Hayden, Cardinal Health Vice President, Sales, West Area Retail/Alternate Sales Pharmaceutical Distribution. “We look for schools that are innovative and dedicated to independent community pharmacy, and WesternU is one of them.”

Pharmacy students have many options when they graduate, including clinical pharmacy in a hospital setting or working in a “big box” community pharmacy such as Target or Walmart.

“We see independent community pharmacy as improving community health care,” Hayden said. “There are great pharmacists that work at CVS and Walgreens. But there is a difference in dealing with an employee and dealing with an independent pharmacy owner.”

Independent community pharmacists are some of the best health care providers out there, Hayden said.

“For community care, we feel the independent community pharmacist is extremely valuable,” he said. “And any time one goes out of business, we believe that community is underserved.”

Pharmacy students need to understand community pharmacy is extremely important.

“Not only is it rewarding financially, but an independent community pharmacist is a leader in their community,” Hayden said. “They are an employer. They are usually very well known. That’s a big civic responsibility.”