Women in Pharmacy welcomes Puerto Rico chapter, celebrates female trailblazers
Cardinal Health celebrated its Women in Pharmacy community, now in its eighth year, at Cardinal Health RBC 2018 in San Diego during two morning events — a leadership forum followed by the annual Mix, Mingle and Mocha Reception. During the events, the Cardinal Health WIP community welcomed the latest chapter to join its ranks — pharmacy owners from Puerto Rico.
Chartered earlier this year, the Puerto Rico WIP community rallied around the neighborhoods they serve in the wake of the devastation delivered last year by Hurricane Maria. In Puerto Rico, 75% of the pharmacy students graduating are women, as compared with 45% of women who are business owners in the commonwealth.
“We’re happy to see Women in Pharmacy chapters expand to the Puerto Rico communities,” said Eden Sulzer, director and founder of the WIP initiative at Cardinal Health. “There have been a lot of great relationships that have happened because of [WIP], and it’s exciting to witness the progress of female pharmacists who joined the initiative and continue to make an impact across the country.”
A milestone for the Women in Pharmacy initiative will be reached this fall as Cardinal Health announced its sponsorship of the first annual Women Pharmacist Day on Oct. 12. Women Pharmacist Day was created by Suzanne Rabi Soliman, founder of the 12,000-member Pharmacist Moms Group community.
Soliman earned her PharmD from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2004, and currently is the chief academic officer for the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. In 2017, she founded the Pharmacist Moms Group, and in less than one year commanded a group of more than 10,000 women. “As a pharmacist, I often felt that I was operating in a silo, but these moms have made me realize I am not,” Soliman posted in a recent blog. “The Pharmacist Moms Group is not just a group, but rather a movement and a full support system.”
Cardinal Health’s WIP community also heard from another trailblazer during Cardinal Health RBC. As one of the first women to fly Apache combat helicopters in the U.S. Armed Forces, motivational speaker Shannon Huffman Polson addressed the WIP community on leadership. She provided four key components of successful leadership, sharing that leaders need to own their own story, take care of their people by listening first, invite those people to share in their respective journeys and have the courage of ownership.
“One of the things I learned in my eight years in uniform and the years in corporate leadership, is that leadership does not have to do with your rank, position or the number of direct reports you have,” Polson said. “Being a leader has everything to do with making the decision to lead.”
It starts with knowing exactly what you want and then having the grit to pursue it. “Once you connect to your core purpose, you connect to that grit deep inside yourself,” she said. “Grit is something [that’s] innate in every single one of us. Grit is the intersection between your purpose and your passion. Once you’ve done the work to drill down to your core purpose and find that grit, it will get you through the toughest times.”
Click here to learn more about Cardinal Health’s Women in Pharmacy initiative and how to get involved.
2018 Ken Wurster leadership award goes to pharmacist humanitarian
Cardinal Health named Troy Simons, owner of Foster Corner Drug in Perry, Okla., the recipient of the 2018 Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award. As part of the recognition, Cardinal Health will donate $10,000 to the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy.
“[Simons] is such a tireless advocate for his community and a participant in so many activities that it’s impossible to list them all,” Chris Lanctot, vice president retail independent sales for the Central Region at Cardinal Health, told Cardinal Health RBC 2018 attendees during the Friday evening program on June 29. “Highlights include volunteering at the Free Medical Clinic that serves underprivileged patients unable to receive health care through other channels, volunteering at Oklahoma State University [and] mentoring students interested in marketing and economics.”
Simons owns two pharmacies and has junior partners in four other locations. He encourages each of the stores to focus on connecting to their respective neighborhoods. For example, Simons has set up a program at each pharmacy that helps patients who have medicine needs but can’t afford them. At Foster Corner Drug, the program is a charge account called Foster’s Fund. If a pharmacist identifies a legitimate need, they can discreetly charge medications to that account. Simons set up these programs hoping that a patient will not leave his pharmacy without the medications they need.
Simons also attends an annual medical trip to Nicaragua organized by One World Health. He travels with local doctors, dentists, nurses and support staff in Nicaragua each January and spends four days in a local clinic where he works as the pharmacist to fill all the prescription needs. His personal best is 640 prescriptions with one pharmacist.
Another project in which Simons participates is Arms of Hope in Medina, Texas, which is a home for disadvantaged children. Simons supports Arms of Hope by painting, building playgrounds and clearing trees.
In addition, Simons volunteers for USA adoption, a Christian program that matches out-of-town Oklahoma State University students with local community members as a connection point and source of encouragement.
Each year, Cardinal Health nominates a number of independent pharmacy owners for the Ken Wurster award, which recognizes a pharmacist that exemplifies strong leadership, commits to community volunteer efforts and inspires others in their community.
In honor of Ken Wurster’s commitment to his Tampa, Fla., community and his pharmacy customers, Cardinal Health and the National Retail Advisory Board created the Ken Wurster Community Leadership Award. Each year at Cardinal Health RBC, this award is presented to an independent pharmacist who demonstrates a commitment to promoting the principles of community pharmacy.
NCPA dishes ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Pharmacy Owners’
At Cardinal Health RBC 2018, Doug Hoey, president and CEO of the National Community Pharmacists Association, discussed the “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Pharmacy Owners,” encouraging attendees to be proactive in the marketplace and their communities. After interviewing dozens of independent pharmacy owners to gain their insight, he shared that pharmacists who embody these seven habits are typically on the forefront of pharmacy innovation.
Habit No. 1: Invest time, money and energy in personnel
It’s a people business. That’s as true for the relationship between pharmacist and patient as it is for the one between pharmacist and front-line staff. Highly successful pharmacy owners make a conscious effort to find, recruit, train and continue to motivate their teams. “Training and motivating team members is one of the most important things you can do,” Hoey said. One owner interviewed by Hoey used an “attaboy” box to motivate employees. The box, filled with recent accolades of store employees, is pulled out and shared during team meetings. That practice not only helps boost morale, the owner noted, but also helps reinforce positive, customer-focused behaviors. “What gets rewarded, gets repeated,” Hoey said.
Habit No. 2: Get out from behind the counter
Independent pharmacy owners do not have access to the best corners, nor do they own and operate PBMs to help drive patients through their doors. “[Independents] are starting out at a little bit of a disadvantage,” Hoey said. “Of these seven habits, I would argue [getting out into the community] may be the most important thing you can do for your business.” The leading reason pharmacy owners and operators refrain from personal, hands-on community engagement is cost, Hoey said. Many owners feel that if they’re not behind the bench adjudicating prescriptions, then they’re not contributing to the bottom line. But of the thousands of owners Hoey has engaged with who have made it a point to get out from behind the bench and plug into their patients and their communities, it has become a game changer.
Habit No. 3: Know what’s driving the financials
Knowing is half the battle. Pharmacy owners who have an intimate knowledge of their profit and loss statements, and which levers they can pull to improve those statements, have a leg up on their competitors. “Most of us look at our financials as a lag measure,” Hoey said. “Knowing some lag measures does have benefits, but you want to know what’s influencing those financials before they happen.” According to the NCPA Digest, those independent pharmacists who best manage their cost of goods rank among the top 25% best independent pharmacy performers.
Habit No. 4: Know and understand pharmacy contracts
Highly successful pharmacy owners read their contracts before signing, especially when it comes to pharmacy networks. “Even though [many are] one-sided, take-it-or-leave-it contracts, it’s still your signature on that contract. That makes it really hard to say this is unfair and wrong, even if it is unfair and wrong,” Hoey said. “Know what’s in your contract. You might not like what’s in there, but understanding [the contract] is better than being blindsided.”
Habit No. 5: Embrace innovation
More consumers are using technology to optimize their daily lives. For many of the same reasons, pharmacy owners should deploy technology to help drive efficiencies into the business and to lower operating costs. “Your pharmacy management systems are often an underutilized resource,” Hoey said. “There are so many whistles and bells that are good tools in [a typical] pharmacy management system that pharmacy owners don’t know they exist.”
Habit No. 6: Get in sync with med sync
Medication synchronization is one of those crucial technology tools pharmacists can use to improve patient care, create operational efficiencies and mitigate inventory costs. In other words, it does it all. “Most people in this room, if our surveys are right, are doing some form of medication synchronization,” Hoey said. “But as I talked with the most successful pharmacy owners, just doing it and really doing it are two different things. By really doing it, that means you’ve assigned someone to it; you’ve trained someone on it. It is baked into your business.” On average, independents spend more on personnel than the big-box chains, which means those improvements to workflow driven by med sync represent a greater impact to the bottom line.
Habit No. 7: Understand what makes your community tick
This is perhaps one of the greater points of differentiation independent pharmacy owners can exploit. “This is especially important for independents. What is the heartbeat of your community?” Hoey asked. “You know your community better than anyone else, and when you’re doing [habit] No. 2, as far as getting out from behind the counter, you’re going to know your community even more.”