Cultivating An Innovative Spirit

AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Program supports student aspirations.

Feb 20, 2014
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Launched in the fall of 2011, the AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Program is an innovative offering within the School. The Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Certification program is designed to advance practitioners who develop entrepreneurial skills through both classroom and experiential work.

Blending with the doctoral curriculum, from the first semester the emphasis is on developing clinical and patient care skills as a baseline for entry into the entrepreneurial courses. Clinical experience in a wide variety of settings, including innovative community pharmacies, provide students with a foundation of practical training. These clinical experiences work cohesively with entrepreneurial ideals applied in the business community.

"This program is unique in the sense that it is part of the existing curriculum as a certification program. The great thing is while it gives students business experiences and background to manage a pharmacy or open their own, it doesn't extend their time to graduation. That is important from the student perspective," says David Collum, Chair of the Entrepreneurial Program. He adds, "Our program here at Pacific is a little bit different from others that may be scattered around the country in that it is academically part of the degree plan."

Irene Andrada ‘15 recognizes the value of how the program at Pacific is integrated. "Other schools don't really offer the formal education that the Entrepreneurial Program provides. Learning about the real-life experiences of others, about the real-life financing; participating in this program really sets me apart from other students."

"Our intent, also the mission of the program, is to create practitioners who lead by taking calculated risks, show courage under fire, demonstrate perseverance, and are agents of change so that they may address health care challenges. To create new paradigms and innovative solutions and systems to enhance patient care," explains Dean Phillip Oppenheimer.

That is exactly what drew Wayne Chen ‘15 to the program. "If you want to do something that's never been done, something that's different...that's where the Entrepreneurial Program comes into play," he says. "All my classmates in this program think very differently. You get to discuss very diverse ideas with people that you know are going to change the pharmacy profession someday."

Down the road, Eilbra Younan ‘14, plans to open a pharmacy in Turlock, Calif. focused on serving the needs of the large Assyrian population there. "The population of Turlock is about 70,000 and approximately 30,000 are Assyrian, many of whom do not speak English," Younan shares. "This is a barrier that needs to be addressed in order to reach everyone and assist them in every way possible. Not only educating the patients about their medications, such as providing them with information about drug interaction and sideeffects, but ultimately being a friend they can count on to help them get well and stay healthy."

Collum believes the benefit of the program and certification to students like Younan who plan to be pharmacy owners is the practicality and relevance. "We give the students exposure to professionals they would deal with in a typical business setting. We invite lenders and insurance representatives to talk to them about risk sharing and pharmaceutical distributors who can talk about where the product comes from, how much it costs and how it gets into the pharmacy. These are the nuts and bolts of owning your own pharmacy, but unless someone tells you, or explains it, or exposes it, you have no way to know...no way to see it. That is an important piece of this program."

Chen agrees that one of the most valuable benefits of the program has been the guest speakers. "One of the greatest experiences has been being able to meet professionals from all the different fields that you would need to work with to open a pharmacy. That is what I want to do, have my own pharmacy; to get to do something where I have a direct impact. I don't think you would really get that in the regular pharmacy program; that's what is so great about Pacific's Entrepreneurial Program."

In addition to guest speakers, students in the program are also paired up with E-mentors as a means of providing a guided professional relationship using online software or email. The E-mentoring program is career-oriented and designed to help students in the program gain valuable information about the actual working environment of a pharmacy.

"What students don't pick up in the classroom they get from practicing pharmacists who are also business owners," says Collum. "The students' relationship with E-mentors exposes them to real-life entrepreneurial professionals and demonstrates innovation; it is a means of training tomorrow's pharmacy owners and community health care providers."

Having a practicing professional as a mentor is what inspired Derrick Chan ‘15 to become a pharmacist. "I have worked in a compounding pharmacy in the heart of the Sunset district of San Francisco for a few years. The pharmacist who took me under his wing will probably retire in a few years, and ideally, I would like to purchase his pharmacy," explains Chan. He has big dreams, planning to renovate the pharmacy to attract more customers and build a clean room for the compounding aspect of the pharmacy. "I will also extend my compounding services to veterinary medication, as well as incorporate medication therapy management, immunization and delivery services," he adds.

The Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Program is generously funded by alumni and a significant endowment from AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy. "It is this focus on providing superior patient care and recognition that pharmacists have the opportunity to help personally manage their patients' health that aligns AmerisourceBergen with the teaching philosophy and mission of the School," says Dean Oppenheimer.

Nancy DeGuire '89, Assistant Dean for External Relations adds, "Their lead gift contributed to the establishment of a Faculty Chair for the Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice Program responsible for developing curricular and experiential initiatives, coordinating the programming for students and working with content experts in the areas of business, entrepreneurship and pharmacy innovation. We are grateful that through the generosity of our donor, our students are benefitting immediately through this program."

"Endowments are a direct value driver because their primary purpose is to specifically support and sustain teaching, and for Entrepreneurial Pharmacy Practice, position students to improve community health care outcomes. This is a core mission for the Entrepreneurial School, and why AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy endowed the program," explains Collum.

"AmerisourceBergen is committed to supporting the practice of community pharmacy. It is vital for students to understand how the pharmacist is an important part of a patient's health care team, and how independent community pharmacy plays a fundamental role in making that connection," said Dave Yost, who was CEO and President of AmerisourceBergen when the program was established. "We will do what we can to encourage students to consider community pharmacy and retail entrepreneurship, to continue this tradition of supportive health care."

Representatives from AmerisourceBergen/Good Neighbor Pharmacy have served on the Dean's Leadership Council and Entrepreneurial Board of Governors, contributing their industry expertise. Through their sponsorship of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition, in which Pacific teams have consistently placed, they motivate pharmacy students to create the blueprint necessary for buying an existing independent community pharmacy or to develop a new pharmacy.

"This program at Pacific is itself synonymous with innovation: innovation that leads to new ideas, new solutions to health care problems and new technologies that, in turn, create new industries and economic growth," says Collum. "So, this endowment leads to innovative health care solutions, improved health care outcomes and can drive economic growth and new jobs."

Watch a video on how student pharmacists benefit from an entrepreneurial program by visiting bit.ly/PharmdEntCert.

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