Pharmacy Students Win National Award


Mercer University’s Southern School of Pharmacy recently took top honors at the National Community Pharmacist Association’s (NCPA) annual convention in Boston, Mass. on Oct. 10. The student NCPA chapter won the first Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition, a contest aimed at motivating pharmacy students to develop a business plan for opening a new community pharmacy or for purchasing an existing one.

A four-person team from Mercer’s student NCPA chapter developed a plan for a new community pharmacy. Last summer, the 60-page proposal was selected as one of the top three from 16 entries nationwide. Other finalists were the University of Kansas and Washington State University.

The Mercer NCPA delegation included team members Teresa Hesher of Melbourne, Fla.; Gabriel McLemore of Lithia Springs, Ga.; Cory Patterson of Utica, N.Y., and Scott Tomerlin of Louisville, Ky., all third-year pharmacy students in the Pharm.D. program. They were accompanied to Boston by Professor and Faculty Advisor Richard A. Jackson, Ph.D., and Dean H.W. “Ted” Matthews, Ph.D.

“The final three teams presented their business plans to five judges acting as a bank board approving a loan request,” explains Jackson. “In addition to the five judges, the student teams had to present their proposals in front of an audience of about 300 people attending the national convention.”

Southern School of Pharmacy was deemed the winner of the competition at the first general session the day following the competition. The NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition is the first national competition of its kind in the pharmacy profession and was named to honor two champions of independent pharmacy, Neil Pruitt Sr. and H. Joseph Schutte.

The first place prize includes a $3,000 award to Mercer’s NCPA chapter, a $3,000 award to Dean Matthews to promote independent community pharmacy and a complimentary trip for the team, faculty advisor and dean to the NCPA Multiple Chain Conference, to be held at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands in February 2005.

Jackson, who also serves as director of the Center for Community Pharmacy Practice and Research, notes that the award is evidence of the commitment Southern School of Pharmacy has made to independent community pharmacists. Tomerlin echoes that assessment.

“Being a part of the first Pruitt-Schutte [Student] Business Plan Competition has provided us the skills necessary for opening our own independent community pharmacy in the future,” Tomerlin says. “The knowledge that we have gained from our pharmacy ownership classes at Mercer, along with the mentorship of our faculty advisor, Dr. Richard Jackson, gives us a strong background on what it takes to be a successful pharmacy owner.”

About the Southern School of Pharmacy:

Mercer University’s Southern School of Pharmacy has a century-long tradition of excellence and a national reputation for producing outstanding leaders in the profession of pharmacy. In September 1981, Southern School of Pharmacy became the first pharmacy school in the Southeast and fifth in the nation to offer the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) as its sole professional degree. The School also offers the Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. Pharmacists from Mercer are currently practicing in 43 states and in several foreign countries.