This spring, Aimee O’Reilly, PharmD, became one of a growing number of female pharmacy owners in the United States.
After purchasing an independent pharmacy in January, O’Reilly officially opened O’Reilly’s Family Pharmacy in Worthington, OH, in March.
“I always wanted to own my own store,” O’Reilly told Drug Topics. “I really enjoy the freedom that it provides me, to make changes and to be my own boss. It is something I have been working towards for a long time.”
After working for an independent pharmacy in Dayton, OH, for four years, “I had a good understanding of what the day-to-day operations are like,” O’Reilly said. “Since then, I have learned a lot about some of the behind-the-scenes items, such as starting Quickbooks and setting up a budget—things that you don’t have exposure to until you own a store.”
While O’Reilly enjoys her new position, the path to female ownership is challenging.
“As a woman, sometimes people don’t take me seriously at first. In the past, I had several elderly patients who wanted to talk to the male pharmacist or technician instead,” O’Reilly said. “However, people quickly learn that I am very determined, and when I am passionate about something I work to achieve it.”
“It is important for other women to understand that there will always be bumps and bruises along the way, but pharmacy ownership is something that is very doable if you are passionate about it,” she added.
O’Reilly is not alone. Around 20% of the National Community Pharmacist Association’s members are female owners. “The numbers have been increasing, as has the number of female graduates from pharmacy schools,” said John Norton, spokesman for NCPA.
O’Reilly and other females in the profession have received a hand up in their careers and ownership via Cardinal Health’s Women in Pharmacy initiative, which is designed to engage and educate women on the benefits of ownership in the retail independent pharmacy space.
“The program encourages group members to share insights and advice, ask questions, and learn more about becoming owners of retail independent pharmacies through educational boot camps, panels and networking events,” said Corey Kerr, Public Relations Director for Cardinal Health. “The group also helps established owners grow their businesses through idea-sharing in a network of colleagues and subject matter experts.”
For instance, Women in Pharmacy Program Director Eden Sulzer helped connect O’Reilly to her pharmacy’s prior owner. Then, O’Reilly leveraged her Women in Pharmacy network as she prepared for the purchase and transition into ownership.
Up next: How Women in Pharmacy is helping pharmacy owners