Women Pharmacy Ownership on the Rise

June 13, 2017

How women are becoming more involved than ever in pharmacy.

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.”

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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.

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“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

 

“What was really neat was how the program allowed me to network with other successful female owners from around the country. I have a group of pharmacists who I have in my network I know want to support me and help me succeed. That’s invaluable,” O’Reilly said.

Jessica Macklin, PharmD, and Jennifer Macklin, PharmD, twin sisters and aspiring pharmacy owners, also got ahead in their careers via networking through both the Women in Pharmacy program and Drug Topics magazine.

Drug Topics started out this whole thing for us,” Jessica Macklin said. After reading a ‘Women in Pharmacy’ feature article in the magazine in 2011, the Macklins reached out to one of the featured pharmacists, Sonia Martinez. “Sonia connected us to a few people [who were helpful in advancing our careers].”

Then, the sisters won a scholarship from the Women in Pharmacy program. “We had a platform because of the scholarship, and that allowed us to meet a female pharmacy owner. She referred us to Hashim Zaibak, the owner of Hayat Pharmacy,” Jennifer Macklin said.

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“Networking is a huge part of pharmacy ownership. For anyone who is interested in it, there are plenty of resources with Cardinal Health,” Jennifer Macklin said.

A year ago, after graduating from Chicago State University, the twins began working at Hayat Pharmacy in Milwaukee, one of Zaibak’s 10 pharmacies.

At Hayat, the Macklins conduct medication therapy management reviews in patients’ homes and at clinics, and provide medication synchronization. “We are at our dream job: working at an independent pharmacy, doing clinical work, and learning about the operations of the company,” Jessica Macklin said.

The Macklins’ ultimate goal is to own their own pharmacy. “We grew up in our family business-an entertainment company. It was rewarding to watch our family run their own show and take care of their own clients,” Jessica Macklin said.