Published August 12, 2016
America's Pharmacist is the official magazine of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA).
As a pharmacist and an educator, Karl Fiebelkorn has some basic concepts that he tries to instill in his pupils.
“I am trying to produce students who are leaders,” he says. “And when you produce students who are leaders, you produce pharmacists who are leaders. And those are the people who help lead and make the changes.”
It is a theme he has been emphasizing for some 25 years at the University at Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (UBSPPS) in Buffalo, N.Y. In 1991, Fiebelkorn began teaching a pharmacy management elective class at UBSPPS, recognizing that students who wanted to own their own pharmacies needed fundamentals to run a business effectively. Drawing on his own experience working for independent pharmacies and a regional chain in western New York, Fiebelkorn tried to give them a well-rounded foundation beyond simply filling prescriptions.
“They (UBSPPS) needed somebody to teach a business class,” says Fiebelkorn, who received his BS in pharmacy from UB in 1978. “It was an elective, but it was a popular elective. Out of 100 students, I always had 30-50 taking the course.”
Fiebelkorn, who received an MBA from UB in 1988, joined the school’s faculty full-time more than 20 years ago, and since that time he has pushed for the course to become mandatory. Finally, about three years ago the Accreditation Council of Pharmacy Education (ACPE) mandated that students learn management, and UBSPPS made it a required part of the pharmacy curriculum. Fiebelkorn has since added a spring independent pharmacy course to complement the fall course, which covers general management concepts. This course, PHM 637 Pharmacy Management, has 125 students. Students groups must comprise a business plan based on a theoretical pharmacy case.
“I give them a scenario that I make up, it’s broadly written, and you have to act like you are approaching a bank to make the business case,” he says. “You have to figure out how much money you are going to need, and how you are going to go about it. How are you going to improve this business, or sell it, or do something else? A lot of them come up with some pretty good ideas about how they are going to go about it and what they are going to do, and a lot of them think out of the box. That’s what I encourage.”