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Cardinal Health keeps commitment to fastest-growing demographic in community pharmacy

Women in Pharmacy program provides ownership ‘boot camp,’ critical networking opportunities

SEATTLE — Cardinal Health hosted a full-day pharmacy ownership “boot camp” to support Women in Pharmacy in Seattle, Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Cardinal Health 2013 Retail Business Conference, helping to pave the way to independent ownership for a key demographic across pharmacy schools and pharmacy operations — female pharmacists.

“The changing demographics of pharmacy students really says a lot about what the future of pharmacy will be,” remarked Christi Pedra, SVP of marketing and customer solutions for Cardinal Health. “More women are entering the pharmacy profession than men, but we’re not seeing that translate into business ownership. Some can point to the fact that they haven’t been exposed to what it’s like to be a retail independent or work in a retail setting, but also there’s an opportunity to help women explore [those opportunities].”

And that’s an area in which Cardinal Health has committed to helping break through in recent years. Now in its second year, the Cardinal Health Women in Pharmacy boot camp was created to help identify critical skills necessary for new owners to succeed in today’s pharmacy business climate, and help get the ball rolling toward store ownership through critical training and sharing key tips of the trade, including finance basics and basic personnel management training. The boot camp also featured a panel discussion with successful, present-day female pharmacy owners, “showing women the way to ownership and helping established owners grow their businesses is the mission — and passion — of the Women in Pharmacy Initiative,” Cardinal Health noted. The program was open to pharmacy students, alumni and pharmacy employees interested in owning their own business.

“What we’re trying to do is elevate the awareness [among women] that they can own their own store,” noted Steve Lawrence, SVP independent sales for Cardinal Health. Today most owners are men despite the fact that women comprise more than 60% of pharmacy students, he said.

“It’s going to be critical for women to be owners if you want independent pharmacy to thrive and grow,” added Michael Kaufmann, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Segment at Cardinal Health.

Helping prospective pharmacy owners find mentors is a key element of the boot camp and the work Cardinal Health does all year long to support female ownership, Pedra said.

“Pairing women with good mentors [is] a good focus for [the program],” noted Beverly Schaefer, pharmacist owner of Katterman’s Sand Point Pharmacy in Seattle, and a finalist for this year’s Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award (click here for more on the Wurster Award). “This program is designed to help women feel more confident in their ability to make good business decisions,” she added. “[Women in Pharmacy] offers them resources that they may not know are available — financial resources, design resources, partnering with manufacturers … it’s all support for either opening or running a business.”

“We think we can be very instrumental in helping young students and recent graduates understand what the options are in terms of pursuing pharmacy ownership,” Pedra said. “We think that we can coach and nurture them to the point that when they’re ready to start exploring ownership and financing options, that we can introduce them to some of the services that Cardinal Health provides like financial assistance through the Pharmacy Transition Services program.” That program helps link pharmacists interested in selling their businesses to pharmacists interested in owning and operating their own pharmacy.

“Women are the backbone of this profession,” added Kathy Campbell, owner of Medicap Pharmacy and OMC Pharmacy in Owassa, Okla. “You go into any pharmacy, whether it’s the pharmacist, the technicians, the cashiers or the customers, [women] are the ones who are in the pharmacy and are driving the business,” she said. “This is not just about women owning pharmacies; it’s about all women being empowered in their health care.”

Cardinal Health launched the initiative to offer women the resources, support and inspiration they need to start, manage and grow their own independent pharmacy, Lawrence noted. As part of the Women in Pharmacy programming, Cardinal Health also provided several important networking opportunities for female pharmacists, including its “Mix, Mingle and Mocha,” now in its third year as part of the Cardinal Health RBC lineup. “Mix, Mingle and Mocha” is aimed at helping to connect female pharmacy students with female pharmacy owners who may serve as mentors.

To keep up with all the news from Cardinal Health RBC 2013, visit DrugStoreNews.com/Cardinal-Health-Retail-Business-Conference-2013.

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