Inaugural forum generates enthusiasm for independent pharmacy ownership

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy introduced students and practicing pharmacists to the dynamic world of independent pharmacy ownership during the inaugural Pharmacy Ownership Forum held Aug. 19 in Orlando.

The event aimed to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit within the next generation of pharmacists while creating awareness that independent pharmacy ownership is a viable career path.

Dr. Ronna Hauser
Dr. Ronna Hauser

“Independent pharmacy ownership is not talked about a lot in pharmacy school,” said John Gums, Pharm.D., FCCP, associate dean for clinical and administrative affairs at the UF College of Pharmacy and one of the co-organizers of the event. “We wanted to make students aware that pharmacy ownership is achievable and there is a network of independent pharmacists available to support them in their journey.”

More than a dozen speakers delivered presentations related to independent pharmacy ownership — from securing financing to understanding the regulatory environment.

Ronna Hauser, Pharm.D., senior vice president of policy and pharmacy affairs at the National Community Pharmacists Association, delivered the keynote address. She updated the audience on the latest legislation affecting pharmacy owners and encouraged pharmacy students to advocate for the profession.

“Pharmacists can be the driving force for legislative change when advocating for policies that ensure quality health care for all,” Hauser said. “Get to know your representatives and let them know that pharmacy needs reforms to protect the future of your profession.”

Dr. Garrett Smith
Dr. Garrett Smith addresses attendees at the Pharmacy Ownership Forum.

Garrett Smith, Pharm.D., ’19, presented on his pathway to pharmacy ownership. In 2021, Smith opened an independent pharmacy in his hometown of Jay, Florida — a small community of about 500 residents in the state’s panhandle region. He shared about the barriers and challenges he faced and how he leaned on his connections to other pharmacy owners to navigate the complex process.

“I put my heart and soul into my pharmacy every single day,” Smith said. “It is tiring and daunting, but it is so fulfilling, and I love being an independent pharmacy owner.”

For the nearly 75 pharmacy students who attended the Pharmacy Ownership Forum, the event offered an insider’s view of independent pharmacy and an opportunity to network with pharmacy owners from around the state.

“Events like these allow students to see a different perspective of community pharmacy,” said Lizzy Burry, a third-year student pharmacist and the president of the UF student chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association. “Hearing the success stories and the struggles all together is important, so student pharmacists can make informed decisions about their future.”

The inaugural Pharmacy Ownership Forum was sponsored by McKesson and MyRx, a UF Health service.

To view photos of the event, visit:

Pharmacy Ownership Forum