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Golf tournament benefits pharmacy students

by Rodney Tanaka

June 1, 2009

Read 3 mins

The GNP/ICP Scholarship Golf Classic has benefited pharmacy students at Western University of Health Sciences and the University of Southern California since 2003 by raising money for student scholarships and continuing education programs for participating independent pharmacists.

The seventh annual GNP/ICP tournament, co-sponsored by Good Neighbor Pharmacy and the Institute for Community Pharmacy, is set to tee off Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at Robinson Ranch Golf Club in Santa Clarita, Calif. The tournament raised more than $150,000 last year, with each university receiving $50,000 toward scholarships.

Two WesternU College of Pharmacy graduates who benefited from GNP/ICP tournament funds have opened their own pharmacy. Susanna Ter-Abelian, PharmD ’08, and Sarkis “”Sako”” Jarakian, PharmD ’07, opened Choice Compounding Pharmacy in Torrance, Calif., on April 10.

“”The education and training we received makes us totally positive that we will be successful,”” said Jarakian. “”We must also recognize the support that we received from the GNP/ICP Scholarship Committee for believing in us and contributing to our tuition with their scholarship money.””

Jarakian and Ter-Abelian will operate the pharmacy together and will participate in medication therapy management systems for their patients. Jarakian will manage the day-to-day operations and do merchandising, while Ter-Abelian will do most of the clinical work, with an emphasis on compounding.

The two chose to open a pharmacy in Torrance because it’s next to Little Company of Mary Hospital, inside a medical building that houses 40-50 doctors and is surrounded by a large number of medical professionals.

“”My goals is to develop a market niche in compounding skin products and eventually develop an expert reputation in cosmopharmaceutics,”” Ter-Abelian said.

Ter-Abelian and Jarakian were married last year. They met taking pre-pharmacy classes at California State University, Northridge, and decided to attend WesternU together, though they were a year apart in school. Even during their pre-pharmacy days, they talked about opening a community pharmacy; as teenagers, both had worked at pharmacies, which influenced their career choices.

While in their fourth years at WesternU, both took an advanced elective, “”Independent Pharmacy Ownership,”” that enabled them to create a business plan for their pharmacy and get a head start. Their long-range goal is to open a second pharmacy in five years.

WesternU started offering the advanced elective in 2005. Since than, Jarakian and Ter-Abelian are the only two scholarship recipients to have opened their own pharmacy.

“”Sako and Susanna turned out terrific,”” said Jesse F. Martinez, PharmD, FASCP, Vice Dean of Academic Diversity and Development for the College of Pharmacy. “”The business plans they created in class were tested by sending them to a banker and were found to be quite viable.””

“”Without the College of Pharmacy, we would not have obtained our goal of pharmacy ownership, and without them we would not have met all the people who believed in us at the GNP/ICP Scholarship program,”” said Jarakian, who signed up with Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen as a wholesaler for their pharmacy.

“”Mike Quick has been very supportive to us in our new pharmacy venture,”” Jakarian said of the GNP and AmerisourceBergen Executive Vice President, Western U.S. and WesternU Board of Trustees member. “”He’s provided us a better opportunity to be successful.””

This year’s tournament should push the event’s total proceeds past $1 million since its inception. More than 200 golfers will get a chance to win a 2009 Acura at two hole-in-one contests, meet scholarship winners, and enjoy the USC Trojan Marching Band.

Jarakian will attend this year’s classic and share his experience. “”We are examples of what they are supporting now that we have reached our goal as independent pharmacy owners.””


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