Company offers grads retail pharmacy residencies

November 22, 2004

Pharmacy students who think retail is the setting for them but who would also like more postgraduate training are being offered a chance by a California company to become residents in a community pharmacy.

Pharmacy students who think retail is the setting for them but who would also like more postgraduate training are being offered a chance by a California company to become residents in a community pharmacy.

Giving retail-oriented grads a chance to spread their wings and expand the patient care offerings in innovative independent pharmacies is the concept behind the program created by Allied Owners Residencies, said Donald Cottman, Pharm.D., founder and residency director of the Stockton, Calif., firm. There are currently five residents in three states, but 15 pharmacy owners in six states plan to participate next year.

Residents in the one-year program gain practical knowledge and experience in how to assess patient needs, how to meet those needs, and then how to integrate it into the pharmacy's operations.

Community pharmacy residencies attract the kinds of grads who are very sure about what they want out of practice; they like talking to people in a retail setting but they want be able to apply all the knowledge they gained in school. "They are usually very insightful into their own personalities and are very aggressive and progressive about what they're pursuing because they recognize they're taking a big pay cut and there are no ads out there saying, 'Pharmacist wanted, community pharmacy residency required.' "

Each participating owner picks up the tab for the residency program in his or her pharmacy. The annual price tag of between $65,000 and $75,000 includes a $45,000 salary for the resident, a $10,000 consulting fee to Allied Owners, and expenses for the resident to attend various professional meetings during the year.

"Our basic approach is that if an owner can financially afford to fund a new pharmacist position, then his or her business is healthy," said Cottman. "That filters out a lot of people. It's not inexpensive, but the owners are very motivated to use the resident to make growth happen in their business to justify that expense. I also warn them that it's not a solution for being understaffed because the resident will bring in new business."

Allied Owners has also developed an exit strategy for residents who have completed their commitment and would like to buy a pharmacy but don't have any financial resources. Residents who sign up for a two-year pharmacy owner apprenticeship program will be matched with a pharmacy owner who wants to expand the business or retire. Currently, three former residents are apprentices.

"We've broken down the pharmacy ownership skills and created a process with didactic content and experience with the intent that by the end of the first year, they become acting owners of the business and at the end of the second year, they decide whether they want to stay on as junior partners," said Cottman. "Three years out of school, they're in an ownership position, practicing as they want, and doing innovative things."

For more information, go to http://www.allied-owners.com/ on the Inter-net, phone (209) 271-5394, or e-mail Donald@aorhome.com
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