Advice for Non-Dispensing Pharmacist Entrepreneurs

JUNE 07, 2015
You've decided, as a pharmacist, you are ready to break out of the dispensing mold and create your own non-dispensing pharmacy business.  Regardless of whether you have worked for years in retail or hospital pharmacy, or whether you are a newly licensed pharmacist, you are sure there are opportunities to be had.
Most likely, you find your work as a pharmacist relatively stimulating and somewhat rewarding. At some point, however, an idea comes to you without warning. 

Quite regularly, the innovative thoughts that land in your mind will dissipate over a few days.  Now and again, you find that 1 or even 2 weeks later, you are still pondering the possibility. 
Over the past few years, I have rubbed elbows with quite a few pharmacists who have gone out on their own to follow their passion. Here are just a few examples of non-dispensing pharmacist opportunities that have been addressed:
  1. Private medication therapy management (MTM) business serving the community.
  2. Online forum for pharmacists to meet other pharmacists and share their publications.
  3. Nonprofit organization that provides MTM and vaccination services to the home-bound senior population.
  4. Help college students pick which pharmacy school is best for them and assist them in the admission process.
  5. Help pharmacists prepare for the board certification exam.
  6. Writing as a contributor for national pharmacy publications.
  7. Development of an online, audio-based consumer medication information portal for patients and health care providers.
These are but a small number of ideas that pharmacist entrepreneurs have shared. What sets these particular pharmacists apart from the rest of the crowd is their perseverance. 
As a pharmacist entrepreneur myself, a few simple truths need to be noted from my experience.
1. Don't quit your day job (just yet).
You may have a fantastic idea that sounds like it will move mountains; however, much work must be done before the first client pays for your service.

During this time, you still need to support your family, pay your bills, and maintain health insurance.  Unless you happen to be one of the fortunate few with unlimited financial backing, the development of your new non-dispensing pharmacist position needs to be done in the early morning or late evening hours, before or after your day job.
2. Create a business plan.
How do you know when you get there if you don't know where you are going? Start incredibly simple with the plan.

This is a dynamic process, so the plan will change regularly depending upon it. Once you get involved with the development of your business, you may find many other areas present viable opportunities. Without realizing it, you may be side tracked from your original plan.  

So, regularly review your business plan. If necessary, revise it to account for your new direction, or get yourself back on track with your original plan.
3. It's more time and work than you've ever imagined.
If you've made it this far, then you definitely have a passion for what you are doing. This process is not about the income. If financial stability is what you are concerned with, maintain your position as a dispensing pharmacist and get as much overtime as you are allowed. 
The non-dispensing entrepreneurial pharmacist sees a need for a service and then works relentlessly to bring it to the consumer.  If the service is built with integrity, marketed accurately, and delivered appropriately, then the income will follow.

Steve Leuck, PharmD
Steve Leuck, PharmD
Steve Leuck, PharmD, has been practicing both hospital and community pharmacy for over 30 years. He founded AudibleRx, in 2011, which provides Consumer Medication Information which is both Useful and Accessible. Content designed to meet health literacy guidelines. Format designed to "read along" with the audio presentation in a simple to use web application. More information at
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