Meet Our Expert: For Craig Dolan, Family and Pharmacy Go Hand in Hand

Discover why, to Craig Dolan, the business of pharmacy is personal.

Read time: 3 minutes

By: McKesson Health Systems Editorial Team, Craig Dolan

From the moment you meet Craig Dolan, you know family comes first. Raising two bright, kind, conscientious children with his wife has been, without question, the most fulfilling accomplishment of his life. But to Craig, every patient in every bed at every hospital is an extension of his family, and everything he has done in the last 25 years of his pharmacy career has come down to that – from physically carrying a child through the ICU to get to the treatment they needed to helping expand patient assistance programs and open a retail pharmacy at an inner-city teaching hospital. Just as he would do (and does) for his own family, Craig makes every decision – large or small – guided by the patient’s best interests and well-being. And when you hear Craig’s story, you’ll understand why.

Getting an early start

Growing up on the northern Jersey Shore, Craig knew something wasn’t quite right when it came to his father’s cardiac medications. Sometimes they would work. Sometimes they wouldn’t. Sometimes he could get his drugs, but other times he was denied. There were endless questions, and no one seemed to have the answers. A natural problem solver, Craig decided to take matters into his own hands, learning everything he could about his father’s condition, the prescriptions he was taking, and what he could do to help. Unknowingly, Craig (whom we now know as Craig Dolan, BSPharm, PharmD, MBA) was getting his first hands-on experience not only as a pharmacist, but as an advocate for what he would later find are countless patients who don’t have access to the tools, resources, and medications they need.

An eye-opening experience

Seeing the direct impact a pharmacist could make in a patient’s clinical outcome, Craig began his career as a clinical pharmacist. But during his time at the hospital bedside, Craig also saw firsthand the frustration that patients, family members, and even providers were experiencing. The red tape, the hoops people often had to jump through to gain access to medications, the lack of clarity – all were pain points Craig wanted to ease. And while moving into management roles as an Associate Director, then Director of Pharmacy, and later into health system administration meant leaving the bedside (though he still made a point to round the ICU weekly), he knew this trajectory would bring him one step closer to his ultimate goal: making the patient’s journey and interaction with health care easier so they had a better chance for a positive outcome.

Now, as Vice President, Business Development & Innovation and a member of the McKesson Critical Care Drug Task Force, Craig works tirelessly on a variety of initiatives aimed at optimizing pharmacy operations, but the patient in the bed remains his first priority. One of the fundamental components in simplifying the patient journey and bettering the case outcome, Craig says, is giving patients access to a pharmacist functioning at the top of their license in the health system. Mentoring other pharmacists and working with hospital pharmacies to identify tools that can help advance the pharmacy profession within the health system are just two of the ways Craig continues working toward what he considers to be the end game.

Close to home

On or off the clock, Craig’s work is never done – but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s not my job, it’s just what I do.” Moonlighting as what’s been affectionately deemed “The Family Pharmacist,” Craig has made it one of his many missions to help friends, family, and the community at large sort through the same issues – denials, copay confusion, drug alternatives, etc. – he has seen patients face in his professional life. Fortunately, he says, he’s had a lot of practice, starting with his father (who lived to 82) all those years ago.

Still, he knows that for every patient he helps, there are thousands out there who are struggling with the complexity of the system and don’t know where to turn – and that’s what keeps him up at night. “Navigating health care can be hard when you don’t have someone who knows the system. And even if you do, it can still be hard.” So, Craig spends his early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and spare moments between soccer practices and Sunday dinners working to find solutions that can reach those patients, too. Because, after all, family is family.

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