Tales From the Trenches Inspire

Pharmacy Times, October 2020, Volume 88, Issue 10

3 Female Independent Pharmacy Owners Offer Pearls of Wisdom About How They Run Their Businesses

About 65%ofpharmacists are women, and 25% of pharmacy owners are female.1,2

But despite the fact that the profession is still male-dominated in terms of ownership, there are many successful female pharmacy owners.

Below, 3 female pharmacy owners discuss what made them successful and how that may inspire other women.

OVERCOME BARRIERS TO SUCCESS

I own 2 pharmacies in the Central Valley of California.

I took over my father’s 20-year-old established pharmacy in April 2019, opened my own pharmacy in August 2019, and gave birth to my first child that same year. The 2 most common barriers I hear from women unsure about pharmacy ownership are work-life balance and their own self-doubt.

Women’s priority is often their family, and many have a hard time believing that operating a business will not jeopardize that. However, I believe owning one’s business can provide more flexibility, allowing the family to take precedence without sacrificing a career. Owning a business means the ability to hire part-time help, enjoy the weekends, have holidays off, and leave work at a decent time. There is also the bonus of possibly working with one’s children and spouse, as most small businesses are family owned.

The second obstacle is a lack of confidence. Women sometimes indulge in negative self-talk, which can keep us from reaching our full potential. We attribute our accomplishments to our support networks, when we have really been in charge. That is not to say that those things are not important to success or that there are not real barriers attributed to gender differences, but this is something with-in our control. It is scary to take a risk, and opening a business can be a huge risk. However, realizing that we are capable and strong is the first step to overcoming that fear.—Katie Bass, PharmD, owner of San Joaquin Drug in Planada, California, and Yosemite Drug in Coarsegold, California

SUPPORT TEAM IS ESSENTIAL

Opening a pharmacy is a feat in itself, but opening during a pandemic can cause unexpected setbacks.

However, as a mom, wife, and now small-business owner, I am used to adapting to changes rather quickly. Opening my business was a dream and a labor of love, but it was not packaged in a shiny bow as I thought it should be. As a woman, I knew I needed to gather a tribe of supporters to not only provide emotional encouragement but also professional guidance. I am equipped with a team of professionals that includes accountants, community members, insurance agents, information technology specialists, landlords, lawyers, other business owners, pharmacy owners, pharmacy association leaders, wholesalers, and, of course, my family and friends. I am sure this is just a small snapshot of people who have been directly and indirectly involved in our opening.

As a woman, building these relationships was relatively easy but also challenging. I had to learn how to be more humble and more honest about what I know and do not know. However, during this process, as in many of life’s experiences, I have grown to be more direct with my expectations, have more patience, and set standards for not only myself but those with whom I work. As I continue amid this pandemic, I can only provide what I know how to do as a pharmacist: be a resource for my community and a connected colleague with other health care professionals, and continue to reach out for support from others. Being a female pharmacy owner during a pandemic requires us to be nimble and build a system of support within and beyond our pharmacy walls.—Sonya Frausto, PharmD, owner of Ten Acres Pharmacy in West Sacramento, California

HARD WORK IS A MUST

I grew up in a family of farmers who believe that hard work is the key to success and that most challenges can be overcome with blood, sweat, and tears, as the old saying goes.

Although I chose to pursue a career as a pharmacist, the lessons I learned from agriculture seemed to ring just as true in the health care field.

I always knew I wanted to remain in my small farming community and serve the community in which I grew up. I had my first internship at the local independent during my first year of pharmacy school and was thankful that it had a spot for me when I graduated. That internship led me to ownership a few years later, and, though not planned, has been one of the most challenging and exciting endeavors of my life.

When I was asked about my experience as a female pharmacy owner, it took me by surprise. Being a woman has never affected my ability or confidence to embark on this journey. As a mother, I strive to lead by example and hope that my son and my daughters tackle their dreams and consider how hard they will need to work to achieve them.—Ali Wright, RPh, owner of Patterson Family Pharmacy in Patterson, California

REFERENCES

  • National pharmacist workforce study 2019 executive summary. American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. January 10, 2020. Accessed August 16, 2020. https://www.aacp.org/sites/default/files/2020-03/2019_NPWS_Executive_Summary.pdf
  • Goldin C, Katz LF. A most egalitarian profession: pharmacy and the evolution of a family-friendly occupation. 2016. Accessed October 2, 2020. Harvard University. https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/lkatz/files/jole_gk_pharmacy_published_2016.pdf