SCCP Students Take Their Business Knowledge to Another Level
March 28, 2016
This summer, three deserving students from the South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP), interested in independent pharmacy ownership, got a very unique and rewarding experience at Live Oak Bank located in Wilmington, North Carolina. This financial institution is one of the foremost leading and innovative lenders in independent pharmacy. Live Oak Bank started a program this summer for independent-minded pharmacy students to educate them on the business aspects of pharmacy ownership, specifically the loan application process from start to finish, pricing structures for prescription and OTC items, and the resources available to make a business successful. The bank has been running a similar program for veterinary students for a few years and decided they would run a pilot program for pharmacy students this year. A total of 15 spots were available over three different summer sessions and SCCP managed to snag three of them! Evangeline Schoonover participated in the middle session, which was two weeks long, while Ryan Sykes and Will Brumfield participated in the last session, which was condensed into one week. Please read further as each student describes their experience at Live Oak.
I consider myself lucky to have discovered my passion in pharmacy so early in school. Two years ago, I was introduced to the concept of ownership at an ownership workshop sponsored by both NCPA and the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center. A Live Oak representative was in attendance and in the short time that he spoke, impressed upon our group that owning a pharmacy was much closer within our reach than we had been led to believe prior to meeting him. It is not hard to dispel thoughts of owning once one realizes the price tag on a pharmacy, particularly for a student. However, Live Oak is in a league of its own when it comes to this type of loan. As an SBA loan lender, Live Oak specializes in small businesses and recognizes the value of lending to historically secure and thriving markets such as pharmacy. Conventional lenders may not recognize the value of goodwill, which comprises the largest part of loans for independent pharmacies, dental, and veterinary practices. Because of this, Live Oak is the very obvious choice for a student like myself who is interested in purchasing. I have known for a while that owning an independent pharmacy would be in my near future. However, prior to my experience at Live Oak I lacked confidence in my ability to purchase a pharmacy, transition the staff, and soundly manage the financial side of the business. Over the course of two weeks, Jessica Trichel, DVM, led our group through the many facets of the process of becoming an owner, and what it would take to be successful after a purchase. Of course, there are many moving parts to an acquisition, and I believe Dr. Trichel and the pharmacy team at Live Oak have armed me with enough knowledge to be very confident in handling them. It would be hard for me to express the extent of my gratitude for the opportunity I had this past summer in Wilmington, NC. When anyone asks what my plans are after graduation, I say with assuredness that I will be an owner of an independent pharmacy, without hesitation.
I’ve always been interested in the business side of pharmacy and after attending the Live Oak Bank program this past summer I feel more confident than ever in my business acumen. I believe that business training for pharmacists in today’s market is just as important as everything else we learn in our years in pharmacy school. For myself, ownership has always been in the back of my mind and this past summer I was given the opportunity to expand that horizon even more than I thought imaginable. I was a last-minute addition to the Live Oak student program and I’m forever grateful for the opportunity. Having a dream of owning a pharmacy one day is one thing, but knowing how to achieve that goal is something different altogether. My week spent in Wilmington this past August has provided me with financial tools that will enable me to make this dream a reality. The bank (if you can even call it that) opened their doors and provided us with knowledge and insight about the financial side of independent pharmacy ownership that we couldn’t get anywhere else. The program director, Jessica Trischel, DVM worked tirelessly with the group to ensure that no question went unanswered. The program provided us a stepwise approach on how to purchase an existing pharmacy or open a new facility and everything that goes along with the acquisition. However, it was unique in that we learned the process from the perspective of the bank. I could never gain this kind of insight from anywhere else and for that I am extremely appreciative. Hopefully, this new relationship Live Oak Bank is the beginning of many things to come in my future pharmacy ownership.
I’ve spent many hours and sleepless nights exploring my career options in pharmacy school. Over the past year and a half, independent pharmacy ownership has become my passion. Once I heard about the program Live Oak was starting this summer, I knew I had to apply. I’m always looking for ways to expand my knowledge on how best to own and operate the store I will have in the future. I was fortunate to earn a spot in this program and what an incredible experience it was. As it is noted above, Ryan and I were able to go during the same week. Live Oak Bank was beyond accommodating. We stayed downtown in a nice historic house, just minutes from the bank and walking distance to the lively river district. Describing Live Oak as a bank doesn’t do it justice because if you were looking for a bank, you would drive right past it. It is a beautiful facility that just happens to be a bank. Seeing pharmacy through the bank’s eyes was remarkable. As a student in the Kennedy Pharmacy Business and Entrepreneurship Track, I was familiar with many of the concepts we discussed, but I still came away from the Live Oak program with knowledge I was previously unaware of. I went on the journey of an SBA loan, traveled through the life of a prescription insurance claim, learned that my local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a really valuable tool I can use to build my success, and lastly, discovered that Live Oak Bank has an entire team dedicated to getting my business back on its feet if it were to slip. The atmosphere is welcoming and encouraging at Live Oak. I would recommend that, if presented with the opportunity, a pharmacy student looking to take the path of independent pharmacy ownership should apply to this program so that they may be a more equipped owner and be able to provide optimum service to their patients.