Pharmacy students get down to business

Beyond Wellness Pharmsave team photo

Each year, universities go head to head to create the most innovative business plan in the field of pharmacy. This year, a Waterloo team came out on top at the Pharmsave Business Competition, winning the top prize of $5,000.

The UWaterloo team, Beyond Wellness Pharmsave, was composed of five students: Jenn MacKenzie, Steven Crone, Marz Tepczynska, Ashlie McGuire (Altman) and Sandra MacTavish. After three years of study at the School of Pharmacy, these graduate students had no problem showcasing their industry knowledge and business savvy. 

In the competition, teams have just one week to put together a feasibility study for their business plan. A panel of expert judges then evaluates each one to determine whether the proposals have the ability to fill real-world gaps in health care in a way that aligns with the evolving regulatory climate. 

Beyond Wellness took first place under the slogan “Exceeding your Health Expectations.” The students took a chance by flipping the traditional pharmacy model on its head, but their willingness to innovate paid off.

Winning the competition reassured the team that they were on the right track with their idea, says Jenn MacKenzie. It gave us a reassurance that in the real world we can be successful business owners. 

The students accounted for a future where pharmacists play a much more active role in patient care. Currently a pharmacist won’t interact with a patient until after filling the prescription. The UWaterloo team challenged this norm, envisioning a future in which the pharmacist first consults with the patient to ensure the prescription is appropriate given their medical history. 

Future Ontario health care regulations are expected to expand the role of pharmacists, allowing them to treat minor ailments, such as skin irritation and allergies. Until the new regulations kicked in, the Beyond Wellness team planned to hire a nurse practitioner to manage these responsibilities – someone who would eventually oversee a walk-in clinic.

To date three real-word businesses have come out of Pharmasave competitions. Best of luck to Jenn, Steven, Marz, Ashlie and Sandra as they launch their careers!

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