A student team from the College of Pharmacy placed fourth in the 2011 Good Neighbor Pharmacy National Community Pharmacists Association’s (NCPA) Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition, which drew entries from 35 schools and colleges of pharmacy nationwide.

Class of 2014 students Susan Phan, Karen Lai, Peter Phan, Amy Le, Kathy Chow and Ky Heang, and Class of 2013 student Karen Lai, participated in the project under the guidance of NCPA faculty advisor Karl Hess, PharmD.

Phan, Lai, Phan and Le will present a poster of their business plan at the NCPA’s 113th annual Convention and Trade Exposition in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 8-12.

The students talked with pharmacy owners to get an idea of what goes into operating a business.

Her teammates had a lot of good ideas and they put in a lot of work, especially given that the plan was due during finals week, Susan Phan said.

She said she wants to own her own pharmacy, and developing the plan taught her about the benefits of independent community pharmacies, especially in customer service. An independent pharmacist can more easily adjust to customers’ needs because they are not tied to corporate policies, she said.

“You have control of everything,” she said. “The pharmacist can adjust a price to help a patient. You can try your best to help them out.”

Fourth place is the best finish in this competition for a WesternU team, Hess said. The goal is to make the plan innovative and unique.

“It’s fun to watch them go through the process,” Hess said. “They come out with eyes wide open. It’s an opportunity for students to get really creative. They go to rotation sites and design a pharmacy however they would like. It’s a fun, imaginative process.”