- Arkansas Pharmacists Association - Former VP and Chief Executive Officer
“I guarantee you if pharmacies go away, if patients get their drugs from a mailbox and not from a human being who is trained and knows how to prevent interactions and knows how to communicate with a prescriber, healthcare’s going to become more expensive."
But what if that frustration can’t be solved with better technology or more innovation? What if it’s a matter of bureaucracy, and rather than being influenced by pharmacists, pharmacists are being pushed and pulled by it?
Scott Pace, an Arkansas-based pharmacist and lawyer. As COO of the Arkansas Pharmacists Association, he is situated perfectly in Arkansas politics, especially those concerning pharmacies. His position, however, does not confine him to a stuffy board room; Scott is also the co-owner of Kavanaugh Pharmacy, a family-owned operation that he shares with his wife, Anne. Although Scott has a positive impact on patients through his pharmacy, his political affiliation empowers him all the more. “During pharmacy school I worked for a large volume independent pharmacy in central Arkansas and loved politics,” he recalls. “I knew I wanted both to be involved in pharmacy but also be involved in politics. I’ve really found that the two mesh quite well because there are a lot of political issues that happen in the profession of pharmacy, and it’s also great to be a people person in both of those professions.” Kavanaugh offers him insight into the issues independent pharmacists face, thus helping him be a more informed, sympathetic politician who can properly represent other independent pharmacists. Of course, Scott has found a way to multi-task, but there must always be a Pace at Kavanaugh Pharmacy…
Anne Pace: pharmacist, educator, and mentor. As Scott takes on the political arena, Anne conquers her own daily battles between managing Kavanaugh, raising their two kids, and keeping a close eye on each of her patients and their health. As Scott influences pharmacy politics, Anne plays a major role in impacting the next generation of pharmacy leaders by working alongside pharmacy students. Before taking on Kavanaugh, she was an instructor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for six years. “When I was at the college of pharmacy, I developed an elective class on political advocacy,” Anne recounts. “Multiple students in the class said, ‘I don’t care about politics, and it’s not going to affect me,’ and by the time they were done with the class, they realized this was as important as those drugs they were learning about.” Today, she hires pharmacy students and gives them first-hand experience in the benefits of operating an independently-owned pharmacy. “I tell this to the pharmacy students I have on rotation: It’s all about making the patient happy and giving them the best care possible. There’s no one telling me on a day-to-day basis what I can or cannot do because somebody’s made up a rule that I can’t do that.”
As an independent pharmacist, Scott believes the biggest challenge his colleagues face is a crisis of attitude that boils down to two issues: “Number one, thinking we’re dealing with [pharmacy challenges] alone, but we’re not. Just knowing that is a bit comforting. Number two, we think we’re powerless against them.” Despite the temptation to think negatively or see the future of pharmacy as bleak, Scott remains positive:
“I guarantee you if pharmacies go away, if patients get their drugs from a mailbox and not from a human being who is trained and knows how to prevent interactions and knows how to communicate with a prescriber, healthcare’s going to become more expensive because people are going to be sicker, and we’re going to see adverse events because of drug misuse. We’re going to see people use the emergency room because they can’t walk into a pharmacy and be triaged by a healthcare provider who’s the most accessible in healthcare community.”
Therefore, there will always be a need for pharmacists, especially the independents.
Scott also acknowledges the need for smarter inventory. “Inventory management is absolutely key in today’s drug marketplace,” he says. He explains the struggle pharmacists have with prescription drug price jumps, and he advises these pharmacists to anticipate changing prices when they purchase drugs. “People who are buying smart pay attention to all those trends,” he remarks, and he relates it to the “buy low sell high” stock market mindset.
A major part of Kavanaugh’s success is the Paces’ ability to recognize every patient that walks through the door and treat them like friends, not customers. “You can’t own a small business in the community and not be involved in and make sure the community’s successful,” Anne affirms. Community involvement is a huge contributor to a small business’ success, and the Paces have embraced the Little Rock and ensured that they and their children do their part.
Scott and Anne both urge pharmacists to be ardent in their political involvement. As mentioned earlier, politics have a strong tie with the pharmacy world, and it’s up to pharmacists to sway politics in their favor, rather than have politics sway them. And as tempting as it may be to see other parties (PBMs, insurance companies, etc.) as “enemies,” Scott advises pharmacists to, instead, work with them.
Apart, Scott and Anne are successful on their own, but together? The Paces are a dynamic duo who embody teamwork and demonstrate it as they leave their mark on Arkansas politics, pharmacy, and the Little Rock community.