A team of University of Arizona pharmacy students captained by 2004 Payson High School graduate Lauren Bartoli won the prestigious National Community Pharmacists Association Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition.
“This was a very time-consuming project for us, but also one in which we learned so much more than what can be read in textbooks,” Bartoli said. “Although my group members do not have any current plans of going into independent pharmacy ownership, they certainly developed an understanding of the options available and how unique the independent pharmacy setting is.”
On the team with Bartoli, a fourth year student in the University of Arizona’s College of Pharmacy, were David Jacobson, Mai Huong Ngyen and Katherine Schiraldi. Kevin Boesen was the team’s adviser.
In winning the award, the gold-medal team relied heavily on Payson Apothecary Pharmacy.
“We went up (to Payson) and visited Craig Matthews and the group left very inspired by the small-town setting and the personal service Payson Apothecary offers its patients,” Bartoli said. “For me, independent pharmacy has been my passion since my first job as a pharmacy technician at Payson Apothecary in 2005.”
The competition Bartoli and her team won involved putting together a fictional business plan that centered on purchasing and successfully operating an independent pharmacy.
“The NPCA Foundation is focused on preserving the legacy of independent community pharmacies, and what better way to ensure that outcome than to sponsor a competition that teaches pharmacy students about ownership,” said NCPD president Sharlea Leatherwood.
Bartoli and her teammates used Payson Apothecary Pharmacy as a model in the winning business plan.
“Craig was very helpful in sharing information about his pharmacy and he has been very supportive of us and his alma mater (UA) pharmacy school,” Bartoli said. “He is the reason I’m so passionate about it.”
The Payson High alum stresses that the plan was purely fictional and Payson Apothecary is not for sale as it was written in the winning plan.
The UA team and the other two national finalists, University of Kansas and Samford, traveled to Alexandria, Va. in mid-October to make live and written presentations of their business plans before the judges and an audience.
In all, the competition drew entries from 30 universities and colleges of pharmacy.
Among the judges were independent pharmacists, businessmen and sales and insurance representatives from around the country.
Winning, Bartoli said, “was definitely a group effort and it was a lot of fun, too.”
For the victory, the UA pharmacy chapter received $3,000 and another $3,000 was donated to the university.
With the gold medal in hand and the competition at an end, Bartoli returned from Alexandria to Tucson armed with a conviction that the career choice she has made is the right one.
“I’m very excited about the prospect of working in the independent pharmacy setting ... it’s all about the personal, small-town service that you just don’t seem to find as much in larger chain pharmacies,” she said. “It’s about serving patients, not customers.”
Bartoli expects to graduate with the UA class of 2011.