An early encounter with a chemist in her childhood country of Kenya fueled Hellen Owuor-Oyoo’s interest in pharmacy. After moving to the U.S. with her family at 18, she earned a degree from Purdue University in 2009 and joined Walmart in 2017. Now a floating pharmacist in Market 454 in Sacramento, California, she is halfway through earning her master’s in public health.
Walmart World got to chat with Hellen.
What made you want to become a pharmacist?
My dad was sick with malaria and the doctor [in Kenya] gave us a prescription. So we went to the chemist—we call the pharmacist a chemist—and he looked at the dose on the prescription. And he told my dad, “Oh, you know, this dose is extremely high, I would not dispense this to you, we have to get a hold of your doctor and make sure we check it.”
The doctor called us and apologized because had the pharmacist not really looked at that, and we had just gone in and picked it up, it could have killed my dad.
You recently earned a Moment of Care pin after a customer wrote a letter raving about your care. Tell us about that.
I opened this card and I just cried. They took the time to write each and every thing that I was doing for them, and that aligned with what Walmart wants us to do. Clearly, we did what we're supposed to do, and much more. And so it's just one of those cards that warmed my heart.
Why do you think your care had such an impact on them?
Her and her husband, they have a lot of complications and a lot of things going on. And when we have our senior patients or customers, they need a little extra. Often, they have loneliness too.
I check and see, "Why didn't you come and pick up your medication?" Or, "Oh, I haven't seen her for a while, I'm just gonna take an extra minute and check on her."
It's one of those extra special things I do for them because they're alone, and loneliness can be hard. So I try to treat them in their own special category because they need that extra warmth.
We’ve seen pharmacists giving vaccines and filling medications. How else do pharmacists help patients?
We educate patients on taking medication, what vaccines are, which ones are important, their chronic disease management.
What do you love most about being a pharmacist?
My passion is patients. I like the one-on-one interaction. I like to know my patient from their social life, from their health life, their spiritual life. That way, I am seeing them in their wholeness and encouraging them through any new health issue they face.
I feel like I'm in the position to really touch somebody's life and remind them that they matter.
Sam’s Club and Walmart pharmacists play an important role in helping our communities stay healthy. We’re celebrating each and every one of them for Pharmacy Appreciation Month 2022. Check out more stories from the pharmacy on WalmartWorld.com.