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Hunting high and low for pharmacists

A perpetual lack of pharmacists in Norway means that innovative methods must be used to drum up interest in current candidates. HR Recruiting at NMD/Vitusapotek devised a cunning plan to woo Masters students at the University of Tromsø with a charm offensive. It worked, as Stein Sjølie, Head of Communications at NMD, recounts.

We are on a recruitment drive in Tromsø. 20 Masters students need to be convinced that Vitusapotek is the best place to pursue a career in pharmacy. After four hours of hard selling we will give them that little something extra – a slightly unusual experience that will spice up the memory of what was discussed.

Perfect setting

Tromsø Wilderness Centre, where we will spend the day, is at its most magnificent. As we write this on 20 January, the reappearance of the sun is just hours away and tomorrow heralds the end of the polar night. Minus 10 degrees causes a crunch underfoot and the sky is displaying a pastel palette which you have to be far north of the polar circle to experience. The setting is perfect.

Against the faint sound of 300 barking Alaskan Huskies and the view of a magnificent mountain backdrop from all windows in the light conference room, we provide a quick run-through of NMD’s 55-year history. We encounter Vitusapotek’s very first customer, we chuckle at antiquated work clothing, and nod concurringly when we establish that in terms of interiors we have also moved at a very high speed, as EPN (European Pharmacy Network) is a concept they know well: Vitusapotek Pyramiden, the most stylish pharmacy in town, opened in December 2014.

Dating service

We cite the meaningful quote from Celesio Chairman of the Management Board Marc Owen in which he stresses that we must never compromise on quality when dealing with customers. We surge through a quiz that puts NMD in an owner-perspective before we bring things to a temporary halt and reveal that “recruiting, as we are doing today, is a dating service where we must first engage in small talk before we get to know each other better... and then perhaps we will end up together?”

Good support

Charlotte Nikolaisen Brogård, pharmacist at Vitusapotek Helsehuset in Tromsø, is then brought in from the sidelines with a very interesting and varied story about her route to the management job she has today. 

“Where do you think you will be happy? Is salary important? Work tasks? Environment? Career options? Reputation? Are you interested in academically challenging tasks? Are you ready to learn everything you didn’t learn at university? Do you know what eight hours in the same place, day after day entails?” she asks and praises Vitusapotek for all the follow up, support and help she has received to make good decisions along the way. Charlotte is unquestionably a good ambassador.

Brave

The students are divided into three groups and are challenged to ask our three colleagues tough questions and they promise to answer honestly. And yes, we think this was a success because the impression the students were left with was:

“Customer values are central. Active group. Focus on satisfaction. Flexible. Good at preparing. Versatile. Unique. Honest about what we can expect. Accommodating – here and in the pharmacy. Good environment. Varied tasks. Security in the chain. Exciting to be a pharmacist. And they are brave for doing what they have done here today.”

Exotic finale

We then continue into the January cold, dressed in highly essential outdoor clothing, where 10 dog teams clamour for our attention – four of which are driven by the students – and head out into the splendid countryside that surrounds Tromsø.

The scenery here would leave even the most blasé person breathless. We can only hope that the associations with Vitusapotek will have the same effect. Because the feedback later on was crystal clear. “We will remember this for a loooong time!”