On October 13th, students from three pharmacy schools will vie in a live competition to be the 2012 winner of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. For the second time, the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is among the three finalists after winning the competition in 2005.
NCPA is profiling each of three finalists on The Dose prior to the NCPA 114th Annual Convention and Trade Exposition in San Diego October 13-17. (To learn more and register, click here.) Our previous Q&A, with the University of Kentucky School of Pharmacy, is available here and our Q&A with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy is available here.
The pharmacy student business plan competition has grown in popularity each year since the inaugural competition in 2004 in which there were six entries. This year more than 40 schools entered. Click here for more on the competition.
Our Q&A with the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (UoP) team, comprised of Daniel Huynh and Nataliya McElroy, follows:
NCPA: What made you consider a career in independent community pharmacy and to ultimately enter this contest?
UoP: Independent community pharmacy has always appealed to us because of the autonomy and endless potential that comes with the profession. I thought that by entering this contest it would give us greater exposure and knowledge to how business works, especially pharmacy business.
A career in independent pharmacy simply sounds like an amazing medium to foster creativity and exercise the application of synergistic clinical and business knowledge.
NCPA: Can you sum up the highlights of your proposed plan to purchase or start an independent community pharmacy?
UoP: Our proposed plan is to purchase an existing, struggling pharmacy in the San Luis Obispo area. Our plan incorporates new and fun ideas like creating an environment to cater to families and the progression of individuality at each life stage. For example, first-time, expecting mothers have the opportunity to attend mommy and me classes to keep them and their baby safe. Similarly, elderly individuals will receive guidance while choosing their prescription drug plan and reviewing their medications.
NCPA: What makes the independent community pharmacy that you propose to purchase or open stand out from other retail pharmacies in the area?
UoP: The main things that separates us from other retail pharmacies is our full encompassing services from compounding to 340B drugs, our commitment to the community and our unique strategy to accommodate the needs of our customers.
NCPA: For those who are unfamiliar with the competition, can you describe the time and effort that went into writing your business plan?
UoP: We started planning to enter the competition in our first year of pharmacy school when we first heard about it. We spent hundreds of hours researching and working on our business plan. We estimate we spent up to 20-30 hours a week for about 2 months prior to the business plan due date working on our actual plan.
The most unusual, but helpful thing we did to prepare and educate ourselves was we went to Savannah, Georgia. We were very fortunate to be invited by Independent Pharmacy Co-op (IPC) buying group to attend their conference where we were greeted by great lecturers and inspirational independent pharmacy owners. They really helped us organize our ideas and improve our business strategies.
For the live presentation in San Diego, we have been practicing, practicing and practicing.
NCPA: What advice would you give students who may be interested in entering the business plan competition?
UoP: For those students interested in entering the business plan competition, we recommend that teams fully commit to an idea and have fun with it. Throughout the brainstorming process, we had many different ideas, some we both agreed on and others not so much. However, when the right ideas were stumbled upon, we fully committed to them and never looked back.
NCPA: Anything you’d like to add regarding your pharmacy school or NCPA student chapter?
UoP: We are really excited to have this opportunity to represent the University of the Pacific and our NCPA student chapter. Without the support of both, we would not be where we are today. Our advisor, Dr. Ed Sherman, was also very instrumental in our success.
Each of the three finalists will receive an award based on where they place:
- First Place—$3,000 to the NCPA student chapter and $3,000 contributed to the school in the dean’s name to promote independent pharmacy.
- Second Place—$2,000 to the NCPA student chapter and $2,000 contributed to the school in the dean’s name to promote independent pharmacy.
- Third Place—$1,000 to the NCPA student chapter and $1,000 contributed to the school in the dean’s name to promote independent pharmacy.
As an added bonus, a profile of the winner will appear in the January 2013 issue of America’s Pharmacist as well as a full-length feature in the April 2013 issue.