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Should I Become a Pharmacy Owner?

Much has changed in the past forty years, perhaps nowhere more so than in the world of pharmacy. Back then, the usual career path involved owning your own pharmacy within a few years after graduation. This was the accepted norm for everybody except the few women in the class - most often nuns planning to serve at hospitals or as part of a team of medical missionaries.
Nowadays, the ambition to own a pharmacy is limited to few graduates, male or female. The idea of independent practice is not promoted by peers and educators. Often, it is just not considered as a possibility. Why should it be your preferred option? I did some research, and this is what I found:
  1. High salaries in chain pharmacies (often around $100,000 per year) are attractive to pay off the high student loans after six to eight years of study. This also decreases the economic motivation to owning a business and fulfils the immediate gratification which society (and credit card companies) has taught us to demand. But owning a pharmacy does not suffer from the same ceiling as does the wage system. In the long run, you are better off financially being your own boss. Do you want to argue about how over-time gets paid out, or do you want to watch your profit soar with every extra hour you put in?
  2. More than 50% of practicing pharmacists and 80% of pharmacy students are women. Yet less than 3% of community pharmacies are owned by women. This discrepancy could be caused by social and family barriers: are we still stuck in the mindset that women are more conservative and therefore less willing to take the risks necessary to become an entrepreneur? Personally, I think women make great community pharmacy owners. They have an inherent nurturing attitude that is perfectly suited to the personalized care traditionally provided by a community pharmacy.
  3. To be a successful pharmacy owner requires motivation, self-discipline and hard work. These are not skill usually taught at school, where the “sit down, be quiet and do your work” attitude grooms us to be good employees. You can do better! Look at it this way – overcoming the hurdles in getting your PharmD took exactly the same motivation, self-discipline and hard work required to make it as a successful independent pharmacy owner...
  4. Break out of the mould and take up the entrepreneurship challenge! The risks may be a bit higher, but the rewards are exponential on every level – financial, job satisfaction, flexibility, etc. The satisfaction of doing what you want, how you want is only available to the self-employed. Working for a boss who might not appreciate your input can be a lot more stressful than managing your own pharmacy. (Part-time) work as an employee can never provide the same freedom and flexibility – most women’s main reason for starting their own business.
  5. There are some challenges specific to independent pharmacies, like buying power or “preferred pharmacy” health plans, but these can be overcome with membership in a co-op like APRX.org
The jack-of-all-trades perspective on human resources states that a varied education and employment background increases the probability of a person becoming an entrepreneur. This is based on the idea that someone who job-hops is more likely to have sufficient knowledge of the various fields involved in owning your own business. This description perfectly fits PharmD! The Doctor of Pharmacy degree implemented in 2006 intersects the fields of Chemistry and Health and usually includes courses in Pharmacy Law, Ethics and Management. Those different fields equip you to manage your own business as a pharmacist. Some schools even include courses on the interrelationship between a pharmacist and the community s/he serves, or postgrad residencies in community pharmacies.
Is owning a community pharmacy still possible in the world of today? Yes! It is not exactly easy - buying a pharmacy is a challenge, involving many different risk factors. But so is parenting. Don’t miss out on the personal and financial rewards just because the unknown risks put you off. At Aventine Group pharmacy brokerage, we’ll help you every step of the way.
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