If you’re a woman in the pharmacy industry, you’ve joined a profession in which women now make up the majority. That said, while 60 to 70% of pharmacists in Canada today identity as women, only 30% own their own pharmacy.1

Whether you’re just starting out on your career in pharmacy or you’re an experienced pharmacist, here are some resources that can help you build your career.

Benefit from having a mentor

“Having the right mentor can make a huge difference,” says Ingrid Vanelle, Healthcare & Professional Specialist at Scotiabank. A mentor can provide first-hand insight into business practices, along with support and community to help you navigate the industry. 

If you decide to open your own pharmacy, an experienced mentor can offer you guidance to help you build and scale your business. They can also help you to expand your network and successfully navigate business decisions by sharing their wisdom and expertise. Whether engaging with a mentor during key stages or working alongside one at the start of your own business or career, their benefits and insights are valuable and long lasting.

It’s one of the reasons Scotiabank launched The Scotiabank Women Initiative.® Its mentor program pairs early-stage, established entrepreneurs, and practice and clinic owners, with business leaders and experienced entrepreneurs for one-to-one mentorship. By providing women with mentorship opportunities, along with tools, workshops and equal access to capital, the initiative is helping to break down barriers and increase economic and professional opportunities for women.

Partner to share the workload

“One of the key differences between men and women when it comes to owning a pharmacy is that women are more inclined to do so in conjunction with others,” says Vanelle. The advantage of this is that it provides more management flexibility. If you need to take a week off to support your health or family, or take parental leave, for example, you can do so knowing you have a business partner to cover for you.

In the Canadian Pharmacists Association national survey, 79% of respondents indicated workload and work hours were negatively impacting their mental health, and 63% indicated the work-life balance was negatively impacting their mental health.2 A 2023 Scotiabank Insights on Pharmacists report also found that time management could also be a major obstacle to expanding their services.3 Sharing the workload through a partnership can help reduce these negative impacts.

It’s wise, however, if you’re entering a partnership to purchase a pharmacy, to create a shareholder agreement. An accountant and lawyer can review your business requirements and help you create a document that confirms important aspects of the relationship and business arrangement such as the division of your roles and responsibilities and what will happen in the event of a sale or dissolution of your business. With the increased responsibilities and workloads added to pharmacies and pharmacy owners in recent years, this option can make sense for sharing workloads and keeping other life priorities and balance at the forefront, while being legally protected.

Build your professional network

“Surrounding yourself with a good team is critical,” says Vanelle. This is particularly true if you plan to venture off on your own. “You need to be closely connected with professionals who have experience with the pharmacy profession – including a lawyer, accountant and financial advisor or Healthcare & Professional Specialists – who can give you great advice and support and knows your industry well.”

If you’re taking over a lease, for example, reviewing all the clauses with your lawyer prior to signing is highly recommended and can avoid some pitfalls. Furthermore, a lawyer can help you create an employment contract for future staff to sign and advise on other key HR matters you need to be aware of. It’s also important to consult with an accountant and lawyer early on to get advice on incorporation, ownership structure and tax optimization. Plus, a Scotiabank Healthcare & Professional Specialist can provide advice on how to best structure your financing, as well as assist in communicating between yourself, your lawyer and accountant to create a holistic and seamless experience. Preplanning ensures all such issues are accounted for and can help avoid costly mistakes down the road.

Get financial advice

The Scotia Professional® Plan was created over 30 years ago to provide access to capital for professionals based on their certifications.

Along with financing, Scotiabank can provide women with flexible credit and payment solutions. “For example, in certain circumstances, such as taking time off to start a family, you may be able to arrange to pay only the interest portion on your loan for a set period of time. In other situations, you may be able to extend the amortization period to reduce your monthly payments and lessen the pressure on your cash flows during these periods,” says Vanelle. 

To learn more about Scotiabank’s advice and support for women in the pharmacy industry or to get customized advice and solutions for your specific needs, contact us today.

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