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What Beginning Pharmacists Need to Know About Business


Pharmacists must be involved in all aspects of their activity and with the various professional groups available.

To be an effective pharmacist, it is not enough to dispense prescriptions and consult patients. The independent pharmacist is particularly a businessperson, as well as a health care provider, and should be good at the former if he plans to continue doing the latter, at least independently. Most pharmacist training programs are ill-equipped for the business aspects of the industry and the training system is not fully aligned with the needs of a retail pharmacy owner.

A pharmacist who runs a business in addition to providing patient care must have specific skills and up-to-date credentials. Because the training world doesn’t have many solutions for freelancers hoping to eventually become owner-operators, we should review some key tips for the business side of the pharmacy career.

Part of the scene
Newcomers starting a business often forget that their pharmacy can only be successful if local customers allow it. When opening a practice, the primary goal is to serve patients as part of the local healthcare system.

Pharmacists need to develop a business plan that suits the character of their neighborhood and a marketing plan that directly addresses a concrete community need. Pharmacists have to find a nearby wholesaler, get along with a local bank, and enthusiastically participate in business life.

It’s who you know
Pharmacy is a retail business and retail is a social business, so networking is essential. Beyond establishing a good link with the community as a service provider, pharmacists must develop links with other operators of medicine and health care, whether with doctors, physiotherapists, chiropractors, massage therapists or psychiatrists. Patients need more than just medication, and a pharmacist who can refer other practitioners – and be recommended by them – is in a strong position within the healthcare ecosystem.

Once your business is established, personal development never stops and is a great way to keep networking. Pharmacists must be involved in all aspects of their business and with the various professional groups available, whether they are associated with their college of pharmacy or health networks. Pharmacists who are women, people of color, LGBTQ+, disabled or any other demographic can find a peer group to learn from and support each other, building solidarity and improving as professionals.

Never stop improving
Many of the skills a pharmacist needs cannot even be part of a school curriculum and must be learned through experience. For patients, this means learning the skill of keeping them adherent to treatment regimens and comfortable going to the pharmacy to discuss their concerns. For the business itself, that means understanding spreadsheets, marketing, accounting, and public awareness.

While running their business, a pharmacist must continue their formal training and certification process. It is important to have all possible identifying information after his name. Certification to prescribe as a pharmacist is especially vital in taking any refresher or development courses necessary to maintain that status.

Find a niche
There’s nothing stopping a pharmacist from creating a specialty practice and it’s a great way to stand out in their community and go above and beyond for those who need specialized help. Different levels of licensing and accreditation are available for pharmacists, and each practitioner may have a passion for a particular subset of the population.

There’s always a demand for specialists, whether it’s diabetes care, oncology, pediatrics—any field of medicine. In many cases, specialist salaries are higher and patient needs are greater, and sometimes the problems that a dedicated expert can solve are greater. In this case, a good marketer can ensure that the pharmacist targets the patient group he has chosen.

To delegate
Pharmacists who understand the business side of their career know that ideally they need specialized staff or contractors to handle operational functions. Patient care coordinators can work directly with customers on many different types of calls, while store managers make the pharmacy itself look and function like a professional space, and a marketing firm can publicize the services available in the community.

Arguably the most important employee of all, an accountant helps balance the books and ensure the business remains solvent. Accountants are also helpful in navigating the tax strategies and procedures necessary to ensure a successful pharmacy.

This expertise is especially useful for students and early-career pharmacists to launch their business, establish ownership and stakes, and create value. Yet it’s at the start that most pharmacists have no idea they should.

Acquire help
Doing all the work necessary to keep a pharmacy running can be exhausting and hiring a different specialist for each task is often prohibitively expensive. For some pharmacies, the best option may be to hire an outside company to take some of the pressure of business operations on the owner.

These partner organizations take care of areas such as financing, legal work, contracts and wholesale negotiations, removing much of the pharmacist’s workload. They also put in place the technology needed for a busy pharmacy to thrive in the digital age.

Running a pharmacy is no small feat, even for the tough world of small business. By quickly learning key business skills, networking diligently, and knowing how to hire the right people or company for each task, entry-level pharmacists can fit into their location and become an indispensable part of the business and healthcare landscape. health.

About the Author

Dalbir Bains is Founder, President and CEO of FGC Health, a leading provider of consumer healthcare services in Canada as well as industry-specific commercial technologies. He previously founded and grew Amenity Health Care into a large network of independent pharmacies, which was eventually sold to a private equity firm.