Ann M. Hils, Pharm.D., BCPS, wanted to be a pharmacist since she was five years old. By the time she was a teenager, she was well on her way. At the age of 15, Ann job-shadowed at a local pharmacy and, a year later, got her first job at an independent pharmacy in Moberly, Missouri. She began as a pharmacy technician (while in high school) and then worked as a pharmacy intern during school at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Pharmacy, earning her degree in 2005. A decade later, she opened Hils Pharmacy.
Ann has completed a number of trainings, including the Pharmacy-Based Immunization Delivery National Certificate Program in 2007 and Anticoagulation Therapy Management Program in 2009. In 2013, Ann became a Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist.
She is married, and has three children.
Did you consider the pros and cons of pharmacy ownership and if so, what were they?
The ability to make my own decisions outweighs the downsides of ownership. I am very passionate about the practice of pharmacy, and providing excellent customer service. I enjoy learning and problem solving. While working for different corporations, I learned that the pharmacist in charge is responsible for everything, but has little control over anything. That’s the reason I decided to become an independent owner.
What kind of challenges did you face on your journey to opening Hils Pharmacy?
We had a lot of questions to answer and numerous decisions to make. Should we purchase an existing pharmacy or start a new pharmacy? Should we buy or rent an existing building or build a new building? What about location? How do we finance the project? We had to gather the data to create the business plan, and research software, distributor(s), shelving, internet and phone providers, where to buy supplies, what products to carry, etc. From there, we needed to get third party contracts in place. We decided to build our pharmacy, and there were delays in construction due to weather. Insurance reimbursement based on Maximum Allowable Costs (MAC) continues to be a challenge for us, and the entire profession.
What kind of support did you receive before and after the pharmacy opening?
I am very thankful for the support we’ve received as members of a small town community. Friends and family came together to clean, set up and ensure we opened on time. We are thankful to the local bank, for helping us with financing; local business owners, who loaned us equipment; doctors who sent flowers and restaurants that provided food. We have also received a lot of help outside of our community from other pharmacy owners, Cardinal Health, PBA Health, Computer-Rx and Rx Systems, who continue to provide assistance.
How has owning your own pharmacy changed your life, both at work and at home?
While the aspects of being a pharmacist remain the same for me, my role as business owner is new, challenging and exciting. I have always had a love for the profession of pharmacy and now I get to share that love with my family. The Hils Pharmacy logo has my husband’s, my kids’ and my initials in the mortar and pestle, which is symbolic of the fact that ours is a family business. My husband and I make decisions as a team and our hard work benefits our family. That makes it all worth it.
What do you consider the “must haves and must dos” to make it through the first year as a new owner?
I truly believe that you must have the determination to succeed. There will be difficult times and frustration. You must constantly evaluate the performance of the pharmacy and look for ways to improve it. You should be prepared for failures along the way, and consider those failures lessons learned.
How has your business been doing thus far? What plans do you have for the future?
Business is going as well as could be expected for a start-up pharmacy. We are very thankful to our community for their support. Our plans for the future are to continue to grow and adapt to the ever-changing profession of pharmacy.