Pharmacist: Jerald "Jerry" Andrew Lee
Pharmacy: Health Express Pharmacy
City, State: Weatherford, OK
How many years have you been practicing as a pharmacist? I have been a practicing pharmacist since 1999 or 16 years. I have been actively working in a pharmacy as a tech or intern then pharmacist for 24 years.
What led you to a career in independent pharmacy?
I grew up in my dad's (Gene Lee) pharmacy, Lee's Pharmacy in Saint Jo, TX. I had such great memories of that and I knew that it always provided well for our family and how well respected my father was in the community. It was not, however, my first choice out of high school. I originally wanted to go business with an emphasis on computers. I started my college career at The University of Texas at Austin. I was so overwhelmed at the size of UT in comparison with my hometown that I chose other paths that led me to my first job in a pharmacy since my Dad died. I took a job as a deli clerk and then pharmacy tech at Family Pharmacy in Austin. There I met a pharmacist that inspired me to pursue a career in pharmacy. For once since high school and my dad passing I really felt like I was doing something I loved and was good at. I moved to Houston and enrolled in U of H for pre-pharmacy. I worked at two great independent pharmacies there, Post Oak, and Briargrove Pharmacy. It was at Briargrove Pharmacy in Houston that I was trained in the art of compounding by pharmacist/owner David Devido and pharmacist "Bob". I loved compounding and knew that is what I wanted to do. I, however, did not continue at U of H. I found at much better opportunity at Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford. When my dad died we had hired several relief pharmacists that had graduated from SWOSU, so when speaking with my mom she recommended SWOSU to complete my degree. I moved to Weatherford and fell in love with the School and community. I also met my wife at SWOSU. I completed my degree at SWOSU. I worked at two different independent pharmacies while going to SWOSU, Liberty Drug in Carnegie, OK and Medicine Shoppe in Weatherford. The owners were both partners in a group of western OK independent pharmacies. They told me some day I may be asked to join if I was interested. Seven or so years later they made me an offer and my family and I moved back to Weatherford to take over the Medicine Shoppe. Two years after I took over our 20 year contract with Medicine Shoppe franchise was up and we became truly independent as Health Express Pharmacy.
What activities are you involved with in your community?
I have three boys in Weatherford schools so we are always busy with their activities and sports. I also belong to the local Kiwanis club and Masonic Lodge. We are active in our local church also. As a business we give each year to local schools and charities to help our community. I also try to help out SWOSU College of pharmacy when I can, and also my local Kappa Psi chapter.
What are your biggest challenges as a pharmacy owner?
The biggest challenge has been balancing the financial side of the business with the patient or practice. Just trying to make ends meet with drug prices skyrocketing and reimbursements dropping has made it difficult to concentrate on patient care at times.
What is your favorite thing about being a pharmacist?
My favorite thing about being an independent pharmacist is getting to be involved in my patient’s lives, getting to know them and their families and being a part of their health solution. I love the look on my patient’s faces when we call them by name; they look so surprised and happy that we know them. I think it gives them a sense of security that we really care.
How has NCPA helped your business?
NCPA has given us the tools to fight back against the PBM’s and drug companies that as independents we could not do on our own. I have taken advantage of NCPA’s continuing education and training. NCPA has also given us tools online that would be hard to come by as an independent.