By Michael Rule, Associate Director Public Affairs and Grassroots Advocacy
On October 18th, students from three pharmacy schools vied in a live competition to be the winner of the 2014 Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. For the second consecutive year, the University Of Oklahoma College Of Pharmacy (OUCP) was among the three finalists, having won the competition in 2013. NCPA recently asked the schools’ representatives for their insights and feedback on the contest.
In 2004, NCPA held the inaugural pharmacy student business plan competition in which six schools submitted entries. Now starting its second decade, this competition has grown in popularity and participation with 42 schools entering in 2014.
Our Q&A with the OUCP team of Lindsay Bebout, Lindsey Crane and Latosha Zugelder follows:
NCPA: What made you consider a career in independent community pharmacy and to ultimately enter this contest?
OUCP: Patient care and having the time to help each patient is important to me. I feel that independent pharmacy allows more of a patient focused environment. Also, you get more creativity with independent pharmacy, you are the boss and you can decide to implement new programs and patient services.
NCPA: Have you previously attended an NCPA annual meeting? If so, what made you want to come back (in addition to competing in the live competition)?
OUCP: Yes, all three of us attended in 2013 in Orlando, and Lindsay and Latosha attended in 2012 in San Diego. We have enjoyed the numerous opportunities for networking, with both pharmacy students and pharmacists. We have learned a lot from the educational workshops. And of course, we have enjoyed the down time to explore the cities the meetings have been held in! We are all in our last year of pharmacy school and did not want to miss out on our last chance to attend NCPA as students.
NCPA: Can you sum up the highlights of your proposed plan to purchase or start an independent community pharmacy?
OUCP: Our proposed plan is to start up a family-friendly pharmacy in the south Tulsa area. We provide traditional pharmacy services, as well as some unique services that focus on the safety of children.
NCPA: What makes the independent community pharmacy that you propose to open stand out from other retail pharmacies in the area?
OUCP: There is no other pediatric-focused pharmacy in the greater Tulsa area. We plan to create a unique environment that includes an art wall, a play area, and a pharmacy mascot that will make families feel comfortable coming to our pharmacy. Our location is convenient. We will also educate children on the importance of medication safety.
NCPA: For those who are unfamiliar with the competition, can you describe the time and effort that went into writing your business plan? How many hours a week? What was the most unusual or surprising thing you had to do in preparing? What about your preparations for the live presentation in Austin?
OUCP: We started writing our business plan a year ago, fall of 2013, as a project for our Pharmacy Business elective class. During that semester, we put in an average of 15-20 hours per week, with a few very late nights in the library! We were then selected to represent our campus in the national competition. We put countless additional hours and work into improving our written plan before submitting to the competition in May. Upon learning of our top 3 placement in July we have been working non-stop on the presentation.
The most surprising thing we did in preparing was make a mascot costume! Lindsay and Latosha both took a turn inside the costume, giving us lots of laughs along the way.
NCPA: What else would you like to tell people about the competition?
OUCP: When we started writing our plan last year for class, we never expected to make it this far. We have put so much work into our plan and are very proud of our finished product no matter what the outcome of the live competition is. Working on this plan has been an amazing journey; we have learned so much, become a solid team, and have grown much closer in our friendship.
NCPA: What advice would you give students who may be interested in entering the business plan competition?
OUCP: Definitely do it! It is a huge accomplishment to complete a business plan. You will feel very proud of your finished product, and will learn so much about opening a pharmacy in the process!
Proofread your plan about 1,000 times! Not really, but do have several sets of eyes besides your own proofread for errors. After all those hours you put in, you don’t want to miss a tiny error or typo.
NCPA: Anything you’d like to add regarding your pharmacy school or NCPA student chapter?
OUCP: Our school and advisors have been so wonderful and supportive! They have cheered us on the entire time, and are always available when we need them. The OU NCPA student chapter is amazing. The student chapter has a huge turnout at NCPA every year, and we are so happy so many of our fellow students will be there to support us at the live competition!
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, the winning team will receive a mention in an upcoming issue of America’s Pharmacist.