Do you need an MBA to own a pharmacy?

The short answer to this question is “No!”  A better question is “Do I need business management experience or knowledge to own a pharmacy?” The answer to this question is an unequivocal “Yes!!”  Most pharmacy schools prepare their students for a broad-based general clinical practice.  Although some schools have begun to offer business courses or joint PharmD/MBA degrees, most business or managerial training is left to the eventual employer.  Chains and other retail establishments (e.g. grocery stores or mass retailers) offer little or no training to pharmacists promoted to managerial positions, and often limit such training to nothing more than scheduling the staff.

So where do you gain the necessary knowledge and experience to run a pharmacy?  There is no easy answer to this question.  The true answer lies in how motivated you are to own your own pharmacy!!  A highly motivated individual will seek answers wherever they are available; be it obtaining an MBA or just taking a few courses to educate themselves in operating a business.  At a minimum the following skills are necessary:

  1. Ability to write and execute a business plan. The business plan is a document describing your business goals and means of achieving them.  Your business plan must include:
    1. Description of the business, its owners and managers, products and services offered, and the potential market;
    2. Analysis and plan for marketing, performing, and selling the products or services;
    3. Resources needed for completing the plan and the anticipated results. (Opening a pharmacy: “A How To Guide”)
  2. Understand and use financial data to manage business operations. Must be able to produce and use income statements (i.e. a summary of the financial operations of the business) & balance sheets (i.e. a list of assets and liabilities of the business) to evaluate and manage profitability of the business.
  3. Ability to promote the business. Must be able to identify and develop a plan to market the new pharmacy in the potential market.  Requires ability to find a potential area and target audience, identify the competition, and use advertising and promotion strategies.
  4. Ability to manage and develop staff. Managing staff begins with developing clear policies and procedures to prepare for and respond to day-to-day issues that may arise in the course of operating a business.  An employee manual sets forth the standards you expect from each employee.  Keep in mind that both documents are living, breathing entities and may need adjustment, clarification, or modification as your business grows.

The above list is not exhaustive; there are many more considerations that go into owning your own business.   However, it all starts with you!!  The more you are motivated and the more you prepare yourself the higher the chances of success.

About Ali

I have been a pharmacist since 1986. I have practiced in the community pharmacy setting since 1989. During this time I have learned a great deal about the challenges pharmacists must overcome to provide quality service and patient care. Forging relationships with patients, physicians, pharmacy organizations, other pharmacists, and pharmacy personnel have offered me a unique perspective in how to own and operate a successful pharmacy. I constantly strive to learn new avenues to advance the profession as well as the business of pharmacy. I graduated from University of Washington in 1986 with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy, and again in 1989 with a Master in Business Administration. I continued on to Willamette University College of Law, where I earned my Certificate in Dispute Resolution and Juris Doctor in 1992. I hold pharmacy licenses in Washington, Oregon (Retired), and California, and am a member of the California Bar.
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