Hello and welcome to my blog!
First things first, a disclaimer: I am a proud Walmart associate and have worked for the company for the last 9 years; however, this blog is not sponsored by or affiliated with Walmart in any way. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Walmart. The postings are also not medical advice. 😃
Now, if you've followed me on social for the last two years, you've probably seen me post about #wellnessatwalmart, or #walmartsocialchamps, or #mywalmartstory. But I've always wanted a place where I could really expand upon those short captions or photos, and help others understand why I love working at Walmart, and how I combine my passions for functional medicine and accessible, affordable wellness. So let's dive in! We're going to tell a 10 year story in one post!
I started with Walmart as a pharmacy intern in 2011, but prior to that, my dream was to own an independent pharmacy. I began working as a technician at an independent compounding pharmacy when I was 17, in my junior year of high school and still deciding what career I wanted to pursue (options included veterinarian, high school chemistry teacher, or astrophysicist.) That first summer in the pharmacy felt like my calling; organized chaos as I liked to describe it. Fast paced, but very much Type A with lots of chemistry and science. And educating people when they asked for my advice! (I'm a Projector type in Human Design; this is what we live for.)
That fall, I toured pharmacy school campuses at Ferris State, University of Findlay, and last but not least, Ohio Northern which ended up being my next perfect fit. Senior year flew by, and started my 0-6 PharmD program in the fall of 2007. I continued working as a technician and then an intern at the independent pharmacy in my hometown of Monroe, MI. But in the fall of 2010, I met the love of my life, and decided to move to Dayton to finish out my college career... thus, I needed a new internship! Thankfully, Ohio Northern hosted amazing career fairs which gave me the opportunity to talk to all the different pharmacy employers, and one stood out: Walmart. I figured that I would still go on to be an independent owner, but in the meantime, why not explore the most opposite experience I could find by working for Fortune #1?
Little did I know that Walmart would be yet another perfect fit for me. My first summer was awesome, and I wrote a little testimonial about it for Walmart's 50th Anniversary website, which ended up being shared in the weekly company newsletter. My story, out of over 2 million associates worldwide, was read by the president of Health & Wellness. For me, it truly validated that anything is possible if you are ambitious. I realized that Mr. Sam always encouraged associates to be our own merchants and build our own business, so that is what I did. After graduation, I became a pharmacy manager. I managed stores for the first 3 years after graduation; in Springfield, OH then Livonia, MI then Flint, MI.
I loved being a pharmacy manager, and had so many opportunities to grow as a leader during those first three years. In 2014 in Springfield, I lead efforts in providing durable medical equipment, setting up our immunization program, and launching medication therapy management services.
In 2015 in Livonia, my passion for wellness had started to emerge as my husband and I began our own health journey and discovered functional medicine (separate blog post coming soon about that!) I started educating my peers and our interns in the market on OTC vitamins and supplements and the role that nutrition played in chronic disease.
Next we moved to Flint in 2016, which was one of the most life changing years of my career. The water crisis was just making national news, and I saw my patients coming in with skin rashes, losing their hair, and being terrified for their children. We did lead testing and held health fairs where we talked about how a healthy diet was one of the most important things to help support detoxification. We thought we would be in Flint for several years to come, since we had got engaged and bought a house, so it was at that time that I enrolled in the Masters of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine at the University of Western States.
Then in 2017, I was promoted to a new and exciting role as a Pharmacy Clinical Services Manager, based in Livonia again. (That meant my husband covered the northern part of the state, while I covered southeast Michigan.) As a PCSM, I finally got to check off one of my bucket list goals: visiting the Walmart Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas! We had two weeks of training, plus another visit for our clinical summit. When I started my role, I got to launch point of care testing as well as pilot a diabetes disease state management program where I integrated what I was learning about functional medicine into practice. But yet again, before the year had even ended, our plans changed again and we found out we would be returning to the Dayton area.
It was serendipitous to say the least, because a Market Health and Wellness Director position had just opened up and I was selected, which was my dream job as an intern and my 5 year career goal out of college. I'm still in this role today, almost three years later, but it has been quite the journey as well! As a MHWD, I'd be responsible for 10 stores, both pharmacy and vision centers. We got to go to Bentonville again for more training, and they told us that the first year would be the most challenging, because you're experiencing everything from the "other side" of the bench for the first time. They were right; going from a clinical role to an operations role was a challenge (especially while finishing a Master's degree!), but I am beyond thankful for the flexibility and opportunity it has afforded me thus far.
One opportunity, that really spurred the creation of this website and the hashtag #wellnessatwalmart, was becoming a #walmartsocialchamp in 2019. When you love what you do, you can't help but to share about it, and that's exactly what we as Social Champs all about! This is where I started having to pinch myself on a daily basis to remember that this wasn't a dream, it was my job! First, I got to be featured in Walmart World magazine, and share my tips for staying well at work. Then, as part of the first generation of Social Champs, we got to attend the Walmart Shareholders Meeting in 2019 to livecast all of the amazingness on our own platforms. It was truly a magical, life-changing experience. Those bonds created in just a few short days have stuck with me ever since.
I didn't think there'd be anything that could top that trip, but shortly after returning. a tour with our President of health and wellness lead to more trips back to Bentonville as part of a team of associates dedicated to disrupting the status quo of healthcare, something I had been dreaming of since I discovered functional medicine back in 2015. More amazing bonds were formed, and these meetings ultimately lead me to a special project assignment exploring the intersection of retail, nutrition, functional medicine, and healthcare.
After the project concluded, I returned to my MHWD in Ohio to kick off a new year in 2020. The rest, as they say, is history. Literally; who would have known that we'd be experiencing a pandemic and a social justice revolution? It's been a challenging year, but I've never been more proud to work for this company as we've taken care of America and started to tackle the challenges our county faces each day. But if there's one thing I know, it's that we have the scale and the people to change the world. That's why I keep showing up, day in and day out: learning, leading, growing, and sharing.
I hope you've enjoyed this post and am excited to share more with you! Leave a comment and let me know what you'd like to read; from personal or professional experience, to wellness tips and product recommendations.
- Dr. Lauren