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Spotlight Pharmacy

Pharmacist: Joe Craft

Pharmacy: Plain City Druggist (we also have Happy Druggist on Karl Road in Columbus, Midwestern Compounding Pharmacy attached to PC Druggist in Plain City, and Happy Druggist in West Jefferson)

City, State: Plain City, Ohio

How many years have you been practicing as a pharmacist? Since 1995 when I graduated from The Ohio State University, so 22 years.

What led you to a career in independent community pharmacy?
I decided to become an independent drugstore owner is due to the influence of a mentor pharmacist. When I was in my final year of pharmacy school, I was called to do jury duty in London, Ohio, the county seat. On lunch break from jury duty, I walked over to the independent pharmacy, The Medicine Shoppe, next to the courthouse. I stopped in and asked the owner, Ernie Sparks, if Ohio State students did rotations in his store.

They didn't at the time, so Ernie said, "Get me signed up."

After my first week on rotation with Ernie, I decided that independent pharmacy was for me. What I saw Ernie doing reminded me of my Wal-Mart job — everything. And, like that job, Ernie had to do everything fast and really well. He did everything he could to help his community, serving his friends and neighbors. I now not only wanted to be a pharmacist, I wanted to be like Ernie, an independent pharmacy owner.

What makes your pharmacy stand out from the competition?
We have always tried to go above and beyond for each patient and treat them as we would want someone to treat us. Owning my own independent pharmacy has been my dream, so I love what I do and I try to convey that to every patient and to everyone I work with in healthcare.

What are your biggest challenges?
Trying to compete with when there is not a level playing field. If all things were equal and my patients could always choose me, Plain City Druggist would win every time. But when my patients get letters saying they cannot come to me (even when they can) or I get audited or charged extra fees because I am just trying to take care of someone, it makes my job extremely difficult. I just want pharmacy to be fair for independents. We could do so much more for the patients if these other extraneous matters were not eating up time.

Describe a recent, rewarding experience with a patient:
We had a patient, who I have known since we opened Plain City Druggist, who was having trouble walking and was stumbling. His family thought he may have had a stroke and wanted him to see his doctor for extensive tests. I realized that he might be having problems with his phenytoin, which he had been taking for years. I called a friend of mine from Ohio State, who I went to pharmacy school with (he has a PhD in kinetics) and we figured out a plan for this patient with the phenytoin. The patient is now feeling so much better and stopped by to thank me for helping him get his life back together (he is a carpenter/owns his own business and this was completely changing his life to the point where he had thought he might need to retire).

How has NCPA helped your business?
I have been going to NCPA conferences since I was just out of pharmacy school. The first one I attended was in St. Louis in, I think, 1996. From going to that, I learned about the ownership training class. Robin and I took the class in Memphis, TN in 1997. At that time, they only offered it once a year. After I took the class, I realized that I absolutely could open my own independent drugstore and in 1999, after trying to purchase an existing store, Robin and I opened Plain City Druggist in November. NCPA continues to help my business by providing educational opportunities that are specifically geared toward pharmacy owners. Robin and I attend the conference every year and are politically active because of the NCPA PAC and the NCPA Legal Defense Fund(LDF).