At the end of her high school career, Nella Brisk, PharmD, knew she wanted to be a pharmacist. At age 19 years, Brisk had her first hands-on experience in pharmacy. 

This learning experience led Brisk to employment as a pharmacist at Walmart, from 1995 to 2003. Following her Walmart stint, Brisk worked at Publix, a supermarket chain, for 15 years.

Once her children were no longer small, Brisk decided that her dream of starting her own pharmacy was “now or never." Starting about a year ago, Brisk began her continuous research, networking, and experiencing what having her own pharmacy entails.

Even though Brisk has opened her Florida-based Health Mart pharmacy, Delray Pharmacy, she still feels like she has a lot to learn, especially as a woman.

“I feel like it’s a lot more challenging because I feel I need to juggle, a lot,” Brisk said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “Whether it’s the household, the kids, after school programs…it’s kind of hard, that particular part…that was left on the backburner for a little bit of time.”

More than ever, the health care industry is seeing women enroll in pharmacy schools and become pharmacists. Yet, there is still a deficit of women pharmacy owners.

Brisk seems to have an idea of why this is, judging from her own personal experiences being an owner.

“There’s a lot of pieces of that puzzle, and that’s what I’m learning,” she said in a prepared statement. “There are a lot of details that go into just a regular purchase, whether it’s permit, whether it’s a license…sometimes, these things deter people. I mean, it’s easier to walk into whoever you’re employed with and walk out, especially as a woman, because you have everything else you’re thinking about at home.”

Brisk credits her very first boss from Walmart—a woman who has now owned a pharmacy for 15 years—for where she is today. This female mentor has even offered Brisk a part-time job at her pharmacy to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to go on your own. Regarding her mentor’s generosity, Brisk said, “you don’t find many people opening their doors for someone else.”

For the future women in pharmacy who have an interest in opening their own pharmacy, Brisk had a few words of wisdom: “Have a lot of patience, and know you sincerely need the funds, a lot of funds, to be open and withstand at least a year or year and a half,” she said.

Even with the challenges, Brisk is excited to finally follow her lifelong dream. She can help other people in a personal matter, and lead the way for other women in the industry.

When thinking of how other pharmacists have impacted her, she feels the most thankful for their ability to make her feel independent. Though the process of getting here was “excruciatingly long,” Brisk said she is thankful for the opportunity she took in making her dream become a reality.