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Q&A: Women in pharmacy lead through practice

Oct. 12 is National Women Pharmacists Day. Drug Store News conducted a Q&A with industry professionals and an aspiring pharmacist to gather their perspectives on the industry and the challenges and opportunities for pharmacy ownership.

Drug Store News: Can you describe the state of the pharmacy profession for women? Are you optimistic about the future?

Jennifer ZilkaJennifer Zilka, group vice president of Good Neighbor Pharmacy’s field programs and services: Over the last decade, we have seen a significant increase in the number of women in pharmacy. Today, more than half of the pharmacy students today are women. At Good Neighbor Pharmacy, we’re optimistic about the overall state of the profession, including the growing number of female pharmacists joining the workforce. We are committed to providing female pharmacists with the critical support and resources needed to help them continue to grow and seize the opportunities available today. For example, we are currently building a mentorship program to connect our customers with the next generation of pharmacists and pharmacy owners. We want to help pharmacists connect and share information and experiences. We also want to create a forum where women can seek advice, learn from one another and find ownership opportunities.

DSN: What’s exciting to you about being a pharmacy owner right now?

Melynda Munden, owner of Hemmingsen Drug Store in Marshall, Mich.: I’m excited about the opportunities that exist for female pharmacy owners today. Community pharmacies serve as a retail and healthcare destination because of the experiences and personalized care they provide to patients across the country. We can really make an impact in the communities we support. For example, my store is part of a program that aims to help patients who have been recently discharged from our local hospital. Through the program, we partner with the hospital and a social work agency to provide specialized coaching and support around their medication so the patients can avoid medicine-related errors that could send them back to the hospital or complicate their medical conditions. This program is a testament to the exciting things we're doing now in pharmacy. We’re part of the care team, not just filling scripts.

DSN: What is one of the biggest challenges facing female pharmacy owners?

Deirdre Myers, pharmacy instructor at Ohio Northern University: Given the amount of responsibility associated with operating a business, pharmacy owners may face challenges with work-life balance. However, one of the best ways to solve this challenge is through collaboration. Having a support system to be able to co-manage different aspects of life can make it easier for a pharmacy owner to balance between their priorities and ensure nothing is forgotten. I’d encourage every pharmacy owner to find ways to explore co-ownership and co-parenting to maintain the right level of work-life balance.

DSN: How can the pharmacy industry support aspiring female pharmacists who are interested in pharmacy ownership?

Jessica Satterfield, pharmacy student at the University of Iowa: I’m incredibly optimistic about a future in pharmacy ownership but I know other students don’t always have a clear path to pursue a similar role. The field can support aspiring female owners by increasing exposure to other female pharmacy owners and the opportunities available through pharmacy ownership. Mentorship programs are an excellent opportunity to learn how to open and operate a business, including learning how to manage financials, develop employees and drive profitability – all while operating at the top of your license.
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