FOUR PHARMACY STUDENTSfrom Washington State University(WSU) beat out teams from the Universityof Kentucky and the Universityof Houston on October 8, 2006, inLas Vegas, Nev, to win the NationalCommunity Pharmacists Association(NCPA) annual student businessplan competition.
All 3 teams presented their plansorally to a panel of judges afterbeing chosen finalists in an earliercompetition.
Besides the fame the victory hasbrought to the 4 students and theiradvisor on their campus in Pullman,Wash, the win earned the group of 5an expense-paid trip to the NCPAMultiple Locations meeting in Februaryin Aruba, and they get to taketheir college dean with them. Theirwinnings also included $3000 fortheir NCPA student chapter andanother $3000 for the dean to use topromote independent pharmacy inthe college.
How did they beat out the 29 otherteams in the competition? "They hadthe best written plan," says their advisor,Linda Garrelts MacLean, a clinicalassistant professor and an interimdepartment chair at the college."They had done their homework,and it showed. Their plan was practicaland proposed a junior partnershipto take over Sid's Pharmacy inPullman."
While their live performance wasnot as "slick" as that by another team,the WSU students did best in thequestion-answer session, MacLeansaid. She named at least 15 otherindividuals—mostly pharmacists—who actively participated in helpingthe students formulate their businessplan.
Student Jason Doss said the experiencehas been great so far. "I feel likeI have learned a lot about the real-liferunning of a business, and have had aton of fun doing it," Doss said.
His teammate Corrine Gavrunsaid, "This experience confirmed forme the value of teamwork, and thathard work and dedication truly payoff in the end."
Team member Joshua Fancheradded, "I think we were successfulbecause we had a great advisor, Linda,who introduced us to many independentpharmacy owners. Theseowners shared their knowledge withus?."
Daniela Beilic agreed with herteammate that MacLean was key tothe team's success. "We could nothave done this without many of ourprofessors and our friends who generouslyprovided us with feedback," Beilic said. "But in the end, there isone person who helped us polish andbind so well together into the winningbusiness plan team—our foremostsupporter, mentor, and professor,Linda Garrelts MacLean." Beilicsaid she has expanded her horizons asa result of this experience.
All 4 students are in their second yearof pharmacy school. Their expenses tothe Las Vegas convention were paid bythe NCPA.
The goal of the NCPA competition isto promote interest in independentcommunity pharmacy ownership. Ithas grown since its first year in 2004,when a WSU team placed secondamong 16 teams and won $4000. Thisyear, the judges reviewed 30 plans fromschools all over the country.
The award is supported by contributionsfrom the families of 2 championsof independent pharmacy—H. JosephSchutte and Neil Pruitt, Sr—and byMallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.
Ms. Nelson is the communicationscoordinator at Washington StateUniversity College of Pharmacy.