Showing up for oneself is showing up for one's community and patients, according to a female independent pharmacy business owner.
Women in independent pharmacy must learn to prioritize their health and wellbeing to better serve their community, explained McKesson ideaShare 2023 keynote presenter Emlah Tubuo, PharmD, owner of Powell Pharmacy in Powell, Ohio, and founder of Emlah Naturals and Intentional Living with Emlah.
“If your health suffers, your career [and] your family suffers. When your career suffers, your business suffers,” said Tubuo during the session. She explained that she had a fair share of health-related difficulties in early adulthood, from receiving a surprise diagnosis of shingles to learning that she could not afford tuition during her second year of pharmacy school. Going through these hardships taught her an important lesson about being intentional in her work.
“Sometimes you go through [a difficult situation] so you can act and be able to help other people. That is when intentionality shines,” Tubuo said.
Tubuo looks for this intentionality in her work at Powell Pharmacy. Her guiding light is helping people prevent illness, manage stress, and achieve wellness holistically beyond providing a prescription alone.
“My goal is to prevent us from going to the hospital,” Tubuo said in an interview with Pharmacy Times. “Everything that we can do—it’s not only prescriptions, but everything—helps [patients].” This includes positive social interactions, such as making patients smile, which can help decrease cortisol levels.
Tubuo has also looked to shape her business model for Powell Pharmacy around intentionality and wellness.
“If I don’t do things [for my wellness], you will not find me at the pharmacy,” Tubuo said.
Notably, Tubuo is intentional about closing shop early when her children have a soccer game, for example. Although it may inconvenience some customers, she notes that work/life balance is her priority.
For other female-identifying pharmacists, she notes that balance may not take the shape of attending a child’s soccer game at the end of the day, but by adopting a philosophy of self-health, it will be possible to identify the right opportunities to promote self-health—even if it requires a minor sacrifice at the expense of customer desires.
Additionally, Tubuo noted that she recommends independent pharmacy owners who feel overwhelmed apply 1 of 3 D’s (do it; delegate it; or delete it) to certain tasks to mitigate the stress of owning a business. “Don’t kill yourself in the process [of running a business],” she said.
During the interview with Pharmacy Times, Tubuo adressed the difficulties of being a woman focused on professional growth or starting a pharmacy business.
“In the [pharmacy] ownership space, there is not a lot of women--yet,” Tubuo said. “We have the harder task of comparing ourselves with others before implementing something.”
But she considers pharmacy ownership like being a child learning how to walk. “You take a few steps, you fall; you take [another] few steps, you fall; but then you figure it out,” Tubuo told Pharmacy Times. “So I always encourage the women around me to ‘Go ahead and start [the pharmacy business]. You will learn along the way.’”
Further, women in pharmacy can use difficult experiences to help others; however, it’s about being intentional in service to others and having balanced expectations for oneself and one’s business. Additionally, it’s important to know there will be hardships along the way.
“Don’t hide under difficult situations,” Tubuo said. “You can complain all day, but what do complaints do? What [you] need are possible solutions. … Your mind is the only thing that will either make your career fulfilling or unsatisfying.”
After the presentation, pharmacists took the opportunity to network and discuss pharmacy business ownership, leadership, and having a healthy work/life balance. Technology was a frequent topic point references as a potential tool to mitigate stress and improve services for customers.
Additionally, during the open discussion 1 female pharmacy technician praised her pharmacist for empowering her to take on more responsibilities in the pharmacy. “Pharmacy ownership is a secret trust and responsibility,” Tubuo said. “You take care of yourself first then you take care of your team, and your team will take care of the mission and take care of the community.”
Tubuo E. Empowering Women in Rx: Networking, Leadership, Ownership, Work/Life Balance. Presented at: McKesson ideaShare 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada; June 23, 2023.