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Altru Pharmacist Recognized: 50 Years of Service

Posted OnMarch 21, 2022

When Ken Schwandt started working as a pharmacist 50 years ago, he would use a manual typewriter to type up the labels. Average prescription costs were around $1 and as little as 2% of the population had prescription insurance.

Decades later, healthcare has changed dramatically. Ken estimates the average cost of a prescription is over $100 for a 30-day supply, as little as 2% of the population is uninsured, and a computer prints the labels for prescriptions and manages interactions and insurance coverage.

What hasn’t changed is Ken’s deep commitment to providing his patients with quality care and customer service. He often makes suggestions to help patients score a deal.

“I pride myself in teaching practical application,” revealed Ken. “I like to tell them ‘You don’t need a Cadillac. The Chevy is just as good.’”

North Dakota Pharmacist

On November 12, 1971, Ken, a recent graduate of the NDSU College of Pharmacy, received his first North Dakota pharmacist license. This past November, Ken hit the 50-year mark, received his Lifetime Pharmacist license and no longer pays annual license fees. Presently there are 183 pharmacists with N.D. Lifetime Pharmacist licenses. Of these, approximately 30 of them are actively working as pharmacists.

The road to pharmacy for Ken began in the small southwestern town of New England, N.D., where a pharmacist named Emil Zeuger owned the local drug store.

“I saw what Emil did for other people, as well as for my family and me. I thought it was pretty neat,” recalled Ken.

Throughout his career, Ken worked in several facets of pharmacy: hospital, retail and teaching. Once he retired, Ken and his wife, Karen, moved from Cavalier, N.D., to a farmstead north of Larimore, N.D. Ken soon found full retirement wasn’t for him.

“I was going nuts doing nothing,” disclosed Ken, who began working as a flex pharmacist at Altru in 2013. “The great thing about flex pharmacy is that I don’t have to ask for days off. I just work when I’m available.”


After having worked in the state for five decades, Ken most enjoys seeing his former customers.

“The best part of working at Altru is that I run into people from northeast North Dakota – people from earlier in my career and some I haven’t seen in 30 years,” observed Ken.

Working as part of a team gives Ken a sense of fulfillment and joy.

“I have greatly appreciated the working relationship I have had with physicians, nurses and other pharmacists. I guess you would call it mutual respect,” explained Ken.

“Ken is a well-known employee at Altru. Whether he's having conversations with his coworkers or discussing medications with a patient, Ken makes meaningful connections with those around him. We're very fortunate to have him as part of our Altru team.” shared Jessica Anderson, PharmD, supervisor of Altru Retail Pharmacy & Family Medicine Residency Pharmacy.