Napoleon Hill, the motivational author of the ever-popular “Think and Grow Rich”, once remarked “The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.” I love that quote because virtually everyone and anyone who has finally stumbled upon something successful has a host of failures to thank for it. They kept going. They kept trying something new. How about you? Is there something you’ve been trying? Ready to give up?
Don’t give up! To help motivate you, I’ve invited my friend, pharmacist Randee Bowder, to share her story with us about her path to eventually starting her own MTM (Medication Therapy Management) service company: MTMCare! Please, please read her story and take some encouragement to stick with it!
1) Randee thanks so much for talking to us here at The Honest Apothecary. Could you tell my readers a little about yourself and your career as a pharmacist so far?
I graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1998, BSPharm. At that time the PharmD degree had just recently been made available. I decided against it because my heart was in business, not in being a clinician. I went to North Carolina immediately after graduating and began working for a large retail chain, and it kicked my butt! I worked in a small, rural town in North Carolina where the people weren’t always grateful for our excellent customer service. When my now-husband and I moved to Louisville for his job, I vowed to never return to retail. I worked for a start-up company that dispensed meds in unique bubble pack strips for long-term care facilities. I don’t think I was there for a full year before they closed their doors. This was the first of a string of business ventures that ended because they went out of business. I then worked for DrugEmporium.com, which became HealthCentral.com before it closed permanently.
When my husband and I moved to Columbus, Ohio, I began working for a mail-order pharmacy, which is still in business today. I left that job because the monotony was too much and left me feeling disengaged. I headed back to retail mainly because I really missed the patient interaction. I worked for a small grocery store chain and then an independent pharmacy before I returned to working for a large retail chain. The job provided a good schedule and a low-stress environment. Yet it wasn’t long before I was itching for a new challenge.
My husband is from Portland, Oregon, and his family had been campaigning for our relocation out there for many years. I decided it was time to be my own boss and try business ownership for myself. After much searching, we discovered an independent pharmacy for sale in Washington. We agreed on a price, but couldn’t complete the deal when the owner failed to provide the financials we needed. Determined to move out West, my husband and I traveled to Oregon to find the “perfect town.” This led us to Hood River, a small town about 60 miles east of Portland along the Columbia River Gorge, a National Scenic Area. A local pharmacy had an opening for a pharmacist and we moved within a few months.
I worked for this small local chain for a year before they sold the location to a big retail company. In the shake-up, I became the pharmacy manager. At this point in my career, I realized that there was nowhere else for me to go in the corporate world. So I found myself back to exploring the challenge of starting my own business.
2) It appears that at some point you decided to make the transition from being a full time employee to an entrepreneur & consultant. Can you tell us a little about this process? What made you decide to take this leap?
When I was working retail (42+ hours a week), which often involved corporate take-overs (a new computer system, new training, frustrated employees, and many angry customers), trying to maintain my family obligations proved too much for me. My mental and physical health were suffering and I knew it was time to move on from retail pharmacy (possibly pharmacy entirely) permanently. I just wasn’t sure how to do it.
Through some personal exploration, I came upon life coaching as a new possible career. I hired my own life coach and eventually enrolled in a life coaching school. I transitioned from pharmacy manager to part-time pharmacist, and eventually to floater pharmacist. I went to school and began building a life coaching practice while working at a pharmacy part-time. The experience and learning that I received in the life coaching school was monumental. It helped me to transition from “pharmacist” to “something else,” then back again to “pharmacist”— but this time on my own terms.
I was hired by Outcomes in 2011 to provide medication therapy management (MTM). It wasn’t immediately evident that MTM consulting was going to be a new career for me. It was challenging working independently and without any support. It wasn’t lucrative at the time either. I nearly quit before I had an “ah ha” moment that led me to hire a technician to assist me. I hired my first technician in 2012 and eventually quit my part-time retail gig.
Eventually, I realized for me personally, I needed to establish an office and more support staff. This led me on a search for a business partner, which I found in Nicole Schrankel. It took just a short email message and she was all in!
3) How have you gone about marketing your services? What has been the most successful for you?
The Pharmacy Today article about MTMCare brought us a great deal of attention and we are reaching out to other publications, such as this one, to educate pharmacists, health plans and patients about what we do. Currently, all of our patients are referred to us through OutcomesMTMTM. We are actively pursuing partnerships with additional MTM providers as well as health plans. Our new website (www.mymtmcare.com) is our most effective tool for explaining our services, our values and our goals. It was created by a great team of awesome professionals located right here in Hood River. Mainly, Mike van Sisseren of Blackbox, LLC, Scotia Bauer, graphic designer, and Becky Brun, public relations and writer/editor.
4) Did you have any particular individuals, authors or books that have helped you the most in learning how to be a successful consultant?
I am a “self-help” book junky. There are many books that have helped me along the way. Some of my favorites are Martha Beck’s “Steering by Starlight” and “Finding Your Own North Star.” “Co-Active Coaching,” by Kimsey-House was very helpful in helping me learn life coaching skills. I still turn to it when I need reminders on how to help patients make lasting change in their lives. Another favorite is “Presence-Based Coaching” by Doug Silsbee. These are just some of the books that helped me understand my strengths and to find a way to work with patients at a level that, hopefully, allows for real change.
5) What advice would you give to a pharmacist who is interested in opening some type of consulting practice in his/her own community?
Going it alone is very difficult. Attracting self-pay clients is an uphill battle when they don’t even know the “what” and certainly not the “why” of MTM services. If I were trying to establish a local, face-to-face practice, then I would try to collaborate with local medical practitioners. They have the ability to bill insurance companies for pharmacist services and pay the pharmacist directly. This is not our model, however. There are hundreds of thousands (maybe more than a million) of Medicare patients who need MTM services. These patients don’t have to be convinced that MTM services are worth the cost because their insurance covers it. They don’t have to make and attempt to keep appointments at their pharmacy or doctor’s office—they can receive MTM services from the comfort of their own homes. I strongly believe in telephonic MTM services. While this approach may not be “perfect” by some standards, it is something when in most cases these patients would get nothing. Our pharmacists are impacting patients’ lives everyday many times over. MTMCare is a network of pharmacists who provide connected, caring and impactful consultations with patients all across the country. We speak with thousands of patients and ensure that each and every one of them receives the same level of high-quality care.
6) Do you think you will ever go back to working in a traditional pharmacy setting such as retail or hospital pharmacy?
Oh God, No!
7) So, where are you located and how can any interested clients get in touch with you about the services you are offering?
Our main office is in Hood River, Oregon, but we offer services anywhere in the US by phone. Our toll-free number is 866-899-1961. We can also meet with patients face-to-face, but only as part of a CMR Day, which is scheduled at interested insurance company offices. To learn more about our services, please visit www.mymtmcare.com. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to sincerely that Randee for taking the time to talk with us here at The Honest Apothecary. I encourage interested patients to contact MTMCare, and interested pharmacists look into providing MTM services in your area!
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