Cardinal Health Empowers Women Through its Women in Pharmacy Initiative

By: Eden Sulzer, Director, Women in Pharmacy Initiative, Cardinal Health

The rising influence of women on the global economy -- a subject gaining heightened attention due to efforts by individuals like Carolyn Buck Luce and organizations such as the Center for Talent Innovation – cannot be understated – particularly in the healthcare space. In fact, women make 80% of healthcare purchasing decisions for their families and often serve as primary caregiver for their children, as well as aging parents. And who better to serve their healthcare needs than the growing number of women pharmacists, particularly those who run independent pharmacies where personal attention, backed by a first-hand understanding of women’s health, is the standard of care? 

Consider the facts:

  • Women comprised less than 13% of all pharmacists in 1970 but comprise almost half of all pharmacists today.
  • Because two thirds of new pharmacy graduates are women and because most pharmacists nearing retirement are men, the proportion of pharmacists who are women will continue to rise. By 2025, two out of three pharmacists are likely to be women.

The case for women in pharmacy doesn’t stop there.  The pharmacy profession is expected to grow 14.5% by 2022, was recently named #5 on the US News and World Report 2013 list of “The Best Jobs” and, last but certainly not least, offers the most equal pay between men and women of any profession, with women earning about 92 cents to the dollar of their male counterparts.

Overall, there are approximately 1,000 pharmacy startups or ownership transfers per year across the country. As current retail pharmacy owners — mostly men who entered the profession in the 1970s — retire over the next few years, women pharmacists have more opportunity to assume these pharmacy ownership roles. However, to close the gender gap in community pharmacy ownership, more needs to be done to educate practicing and student pharmacists about the benefits of owning a pharmacy – and to connect them with the resources needed to become successful pharmacy owners.

That’s where the Women in Pharmacy Initiative, a program I started with two of my Cardinal Health colleagues and now lead, comes into play. We offer expertise, insights, and coaching to help female pharmacists build the business acumen (and access the capital) needed to buy, own and operate successful, sustainable businesses that help both pharmacy owners and their communities thrive.

Each time I come into contact with a female pharmacy student – or a practicing pharmacist – I take the opportunity to talk to her about business ownership. My hope, make that my mission, is to ensure that she knows that owning her own pharmacy is achievable, and that there will be helping hands at every point along the way to ensure her success.