I want to thank the Financial Pharmacist for inviting me on the blog to talk about a subject that really excites me. Making money! You see there are two variables to everyone’s personal financial (PF) equation: saving more and earning more. Those are the only two possible options for improving your financial situation; barring some exceedingly good luck regarding lottery tickets or wealthy great-uncles.
Saving more means cutting out extraneous spending, balancing your budget, strategically managing debt payments and prioritizing retirement planning. The downside, however, is that you can realistically only cut back so much. There is a limit on saving. You are limited to saving $5,500 per year in an IRA or $18,000 in a 401K for someone under the age of 50. You are limited by the basic cost of living in your area when cutting out extraneous spending (unless you want to audition for one of those “living-off-the-grid” TV shows, then by all means, go ahead!)
Saving is big piece of the equation because, until you can control your spending you will likely fall into the lifestyle inflation trap. My dad told me soon after I graduated pharmacy school, “It seems likes you will be earning a lot of money, but be careful because the more you make, the more you spend.” He was so right; those wise words have kept my family living below our means for the past five years and have helped us avoid financial disaster during a very difficult time. Once you feel comfortable with gaining control of your spending (most likely by using the “B” word), you can focus on the second variable in the personal finance equation: earning.
Why is earning so much more so exciting?
Because there are no limits on earning. Earning more, whether by career advancement, side “gigs”, investment income or entrepreneurship, is the secret multiplier in the personal finance equation. Imagine if you could create something once and sell it over and over again, this is known as passive income. It is why investing works. It is why entrepreneurship works. Without time as a limiting factor, earning potential becomes as vast as the effort you are willing to put into it.
Think of it this way; as an employee you essentially trade your time and skills for a predetermined amount of money. The problem is the limitations on your salary as there are only so many hours each day. As an entrepreneur, you can find ways to leverage your time.
Here four ways to earn extra money and tip the personal finance equation in your favor by becoming a pharmacist-entrepreneur (Pharmapreneur).
- Offer MTM as an Independent Consultant
You can capitalize on your clinical skills and offer MTM services to independent community pharmacies, physician groups or even to cash-paying patients.
In a short-staffed community pharmacy, for instance, they may be struggling to meet their dispensing numbers. In 2016, Medicare began following CMR completion rates and monitoring performance measures at a time when many community pharmacies are struggling to keep up with the growing MTM queue. They need independent consultants in their local areas to step up and help them meet their performance goals.
In physician groups, pharmacists can provide value through multiple MTM-related services. My favorite example is of the pharmacists at Cleveland Clinic who are improving outcomes for post-transplant patients by counseling them on immunosuppressant therapies. Medicare is reimbursing for their time through utilization of the “incident to” CPT codes 99212-99214.
You could easily model a similar practice model on a smaller scale for physician groups in your area. At Pharmapreneur Academy, I help other pharmacists build pharmacy consulting businesses. Many other pharmapreneurs have taken the course because they are interested in finding new opportunities to use their clinical skills.
However, building a consulting business is not the only way to generate income using your pharmaceutical knowledge and skills. Perhaps if you aced Pharmacokinetics or Drug Induced Diseases then you should look into a new branch of healthcare. DNA testing.
- Become a Pharmacogenomic Testing Representative
Another burgeoning branch in pharmacy clinical services is genetic testing. A genotype test panel gives physicians and pharmacists a better understanding of enzymatic action (the “M” in ADME from Pharmacokinetics) in patients.
Healthcare providers can use genotype test results to improve medication safety and efficacy and decrease “trial and error” prescribing. Pharmacogenomic tests help identify non-responders before it is too late. Because pharmacists are the most trained healthcare providers in pharmacokinetics, it makes sense for us to take advantage of this knowledge.
The biggest barrier to using genotypic tests, according to physicians, is lack of time. Pharmacists can offer to interpret tests, optimize therapy and improve medication side effects for patients in exchange for a fee. In certain states, pharmacists are eligible to receive a commission on pharmacogenomic tests and can offer their services as an independent consultant.
Here is more information about how to begin a PGx service in your community.
- Put Your Writing Skills to Work
If you are interested in sharing your ideas and enjoy putting those thoughts into the written medium, becoming an author could provide you with another income option.
A friend of mine offers paid medical writing positions which are a great option for pharmacists who want to generate a bit of extra cash. She has told me multiple times that because of our medical knowledge and attention to detail, pharmacists make some of the best medical writers on her team. If you are interested, I would be glad to put you in touch with her to learn more.
In addition to medical writing, authoring a Kindle book can earn you passive income for as long as Amazon is selling your book. This absolutely does not have to be pharmacy-related. You can easily write a 10,000 word ebook on any subject of interest and begin selling it on Amazon. I recently released a book on the Amazon platform without spending a ton of money.
Another source of revenue, could be writing for pharmacy publications such as Pharmacy Times. If you enjoy writing you can submit a one-time article or if you decide to regularly submit your work, become a contributing author. Contact Tim or I for a referral if you are interested in publishing in Pharmacy Times.
Writing can be a creative, enjoyable way to create additional income streams that head straight into your piggy bank. Authors with a medical background can be highly sought after and therefore command higher fees so once you get started, there are many options for the pharmapreneur/author.
- Teach Workshops to Pharmacists in Your Area
If you have expertise in a subject other pharmacists would find interesting, you can easily put together and teach your own workshop for CE hours. Recently myself and two colleagues hosted a successful MTM workshop in Little Rock.
A workshop can be a good, replicable income stream for the entrepreneurial pharmacist. Once you develop your slide presentation and a general outline, you can submit your objectives and offer the workshop a few Saturdays each year.
First, I recommend you “test-sell” your workshop on Facebook or through your local APhA chapter to see how many pharmacists in your area would be interested in signing up. Then, if there is enough interest, create the slideshow, apply for CE credit, book the venue and begin pre-registering people.
You can test sell your workshop in a few different ways.
- Pre-register people using Paypal invoices
- Create a “wait list” to gauge how much interest there is before booking the venue
- Use a program like Eventbrite to manage attendance and register attendees
We limited our course to 20 pharmacists and gave 4 CEUs. We had such great feedback that we plan to offer the workshop again soon. The workshop is something that we created once and we can offer to pharmacists again and again as long as there is interest.
The greatest thing about entrepreneurship is there are no limits your creativity and earning potential. You can generate income through your ideas and your own hard work.
Whether it be through consulting, genomic testing, writing or teaching, your knowledge and degree opens so many doors if you are willing to work hard.
Entrepreneurship will change your life!
Financial Homework: Can you take advantage of any of these income opportunities? If so, consider exploring one further and projecting how much revenue you might be able to generate by participating in that activity. Take this one step further and determine how this additional revenue could help you achieve one of your short-term financial goals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Blair Green Thielemier, PharmD is an independent consultant pharmacist living in Arkansas with her husband and daughter. She is the founder of Pharmapreneur Academy, an online teaching platform where she guides pharmacist-entrepreneurs through the process and barriers of building a pharmacy consulting business. She is the author of How to Build a Pharmacy Consulting Business, a contributing author for Pharmacy Times and guest host on the Pharmacy Podcast. More information about Dr. Thielemier can be found on her website http://BTPharmacyConsulting.com