Why Pharmacy Students Should Consider a Career in Independent Pharmacy

Pharmacy CareersPharmacy Careers May 2016

Independent pharmacy offers new pharmacy graduates a setting where they can develop beyond the traditional pharmacy role.

Independent pharmacy offers new pharmacy graduates a setting where they can develop beyond the traditional pharmacy role. They can establish their own niche services based on their interests, while also providing care that patients appreciate.

In fact, patients of independent pharmacies are more likely than patients of chain pharmacies to say their pharmacist is easy to talk to and is willing to give them 1-on-1 consultations, according to Consumer Reports.1

Consumer Reports also discovered that 90% of independent pharmacy patients say their pharmacist and/or pharmacy is excellent or very good in terms of speed, accuracy, courtesy, helpfulness, and knowledge.1

Interested in independent pharmacy? Health Mart offers a network of independent pharmacies to join. Here are some of the benefits of becoming an independent pharmacist, according to pharmacists already in the field.

A family affair

Gary Warren, RPh, and his wife have owned Town & Country Drug, a pharmacy based in Odessa, Texas, since 1958. They also employ their daughter and son-in-law, both of whom are pharmacists.

Family-centered pharmacies like Town & Country are arguably less likely to see turnover and could feel more close-knit than a chain pharmacy.

“It’s my own business, so I can manage the quality of life, and there’s generally more of a family feel when working at my pharmacy,” Warren said. “As an employer, we know our employees and take pride in having them be happy at work. We’re willing to make necessary changes to ensure job satisfaction.”

Freedom and flexibility

Tania Rotoli, PharmD, RPh, from Sicomac Pharmacy, which has 5 locations in northern New Jersey, said being an independent pharmacist offers a more flexible schedule—especially for working parents—so employees can have a healthy work—life balance. Dr. Rotoli maintained that independent pharmacy allows an individual to focus on the aspects of pharmacy that he or she thinks are important.

“We pride ourselves on having the time to speak with our customers regarding their medication management and disease state,” she said. “At Sicomac Pharmacy, we know everyone’s medical history, as well as the history of their extended families. This allows us to provide a customized and detailed care plan for each and every patient who enters our stores.”

Sicomac Pharmacy decided to focus on convenience and adherence. Their locations offer free delivery services to local residencies and nursing homes, as well as custom-dose packaging to enhance patient compliance.

For Warren at Town & Country, his pharmacy has decided to offer unique services, such as a specialist who schedules free appointments during Medicare Part D open enrollment to help seniors choose a plan that is right for them.

“We have a medication synchronization program, a strip dose packaging machine, immunization services, specialty medications, medication therapy management, and a thriving compounding practice,” Warren added.

In addition, if one of their pharmacists wants to implement a new program, he or she can do so without having to go through corporate, Warren said.

Plus, Warren argued, there are more opportunities for students to use their PharmD degree.

“You have the opportunity to work on lab result interpretation services, and you have the time to explain a patient’s disease state and how their medications can help their disease state and their health,” Warren said. “The bottom line is that as an independent, you have the ability to serve your patients to the fullest extent.”

Ali Sabbagh, PharmD, RPh, of Franklin Health Mart Pharmacy, told Pharmacy Careers that his Michigan-based pharmacy also places an emphasis on adherence. The pharmacy makes sure all refills are being used properly—especially for patients who have large medication regimens—by setting aside days to help them load their weekly pill boxes.

In addition, Franklin Health Mart offers informational sessions about diabetic testing procedures, blood pressure screenings, and health fairs.

“There is no better program, development, or project that is greater than the human experience of hands-on pharmacists tending to their patients,” Dr. Sabbagh said.

Personal touch

At Franklin Health Mart Pharmacy, Dr. Sabbagh said every patient is recognized and greeted by name at the door.

“Their time spent in the pharmacy is dedicated to them, and their every need is met in a fast, friendly, and efficient manner,” Dr. Sabbagh said.

One of the benefits of independent pharmacy, according to Dr. Sabbagh, is that you can see how patients progress over time. “You watch people get better, reach goals, and smile,” Dr. Sabbagh said. “You build lasting relationships. You become a part of a community.”

At Sicomac Pharmacy, Dr. Rotoli said the primary goal is to create long-lasting relationships with patients and to make everyone feel comfortable, no matter their medical condition.

Warren at Town & Country echoed those sentiments. Working at an independent pharmacy allows the focus to be less on the maximum number of prescriptions filled in an hour and more on the quality of work and relationships with patients. Plus, Warren argued that independent pharmacists are generally faster at filling prescriptions than their competitors, so patients don’t have to wait as long.

As the most accessible health care professional, pharmacists can get to know their patients beyond their disease state. Independent pharmacists can take the time to talk to patients to find out the best way to help them, Dr. Sabbagh argued. He also advised that independent pharmacists should get involved in the community.

“Pharmacy students and recent graduates should know that being an independent pharmacist is very rewarding and fulfilling in every aspect of our profession,” Dr. Sabbagh said.


1. Pharmacy buying guide. Consumer Reports website. http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/pharmacies/buying-guide.htm. Updated December 2015. Accessed March 29, 2016.

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