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Drake pharmacy students place second in national competition

November 4, 2010
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Team members Ryan Nimtz, Kathryn McDonald, Victoria Erxleben and Travis Gau.

A Drake University pharmacy student team has won second place in a national business plan competition in which students create a model for buying an existing independent community pharmacy or developing a new pharmacy.

The Drake team finished behind Washington State University College of Pharmacy and ahead of Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy in the Good Neighbor Pharmacy National Community Pharmacists Association's Pruit-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. It is the first national competition of its kind in the pharmacy profession.

The contest took place Oct. 23 at the NCPA annual convention in Philadelphia, in front of an audience of more than 250 student pharmacists, pharmacists and other pharmacy professional. The Drake students presented their business plan for Strider's Pharmacy, a compounding pharmacy specializing in human and animal pharmacy services.

The 2010 competition drew entries from 35 schools and colleges of pharmacy -- a record number of submissions in the competition's seven years of existence. The goal of the competition is to motivate pharmacy students to create a business model for buying an existing independent community pharmacy or developing a new pharmacy.

As the second-place team, Drake received a $2,000 contribution to the NCPA student chapter and a $2,000 donation to the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in the name of Dean Raylene Rospond, who will use the funds for programs promoting entrepreneurship and independent community pharmacies.

"The college has a strategic priority to enhance innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership in our students to prepare them for the future," Rospond said. "This team and its accomplishments demonstrate how our students are applying these skills in a team environment to achieve a common goal."

Team members Victoria Erxleben of Arlington Heights, Ill.; Travis Gau of Robbinsdale, Minn.; Ryan Nimtz of Belvedere, Ill.; and Kathryn McDonald of Littleton, Colo.; began working in October of 2009 with team adviser, Renae Chesnut. They submitted their plan by May 15 and were announced as finalists at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy annual meeting in Seattle in July.

Being in the national competition is more than we dreamed of accomplishing when we started this project a year ago," Erxleben said. "To be able to represent Drake at a national conference was very rewarding. It was great to meet students and pharmacy owners from all over the nation who share in our appreciation for independent pharmacy.

"I hope that our accomplishment in this competition begins a legacy for Drake students to participate in the future and helps them understand that independent pharmacy is still a great career option. This business plan is everything Drake's entrepreneurial spirit lives for."

The team members drew upon their experiences from participating in the DELTA Rx Institute's (deltarx.com) Entrepreneurial Leadership Summer Internship Program and local Next Top Entrepreneur Competition. In addition, the team members received assistance from other students who participated in the research and planning in addition to feedback and critiquing from several practitioners, alumni, faculty and subject experts.

"Our students are fortunate to have a number of business and pharmacy experts connected to Drake who were willing to meet with them and provide feedback," said Chesnut, associate professor of pharmacy practice and associate dean for students affairs. "It was a remarkable team effort that resulted in this admirable feat to finish second in the nation after not having an entry for a number of years."

The competition is named in memory of the late Neil Pruitt Sr. and the late H. Joseph Schutte, two great champions of independent community pharmacy.

"The future of independent community pharmacy resides in the hands of pharmacy students, which is why NCPA invests considerable resources in providing these young people with the tools to be successful owners," said Joseph H. Harmison, NCPA president and a pharmacy owner in Arlington, Texas.