A woman’s place is in the pharmacy — as an owner!

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Four areas that women pharmacy owners master

In brief:

  • There is a long history of women in pharmacy.
  • Today, women earn the majority of pharmacy degrees.
  • Nevertheless, women still own fewer independent pharmacies.
  • Women in Pharmacy — Own It supports female pharmacists on the journey to ownership.

Women in pharmacy isn’t new

In 1729, two years before a man opened the first retail pharmacy in America, Elizabeth Gooking Greenleaf opened an apothecary in Boston.1 One article called Greenleaf the “mother of pharmacy.” She was also the mother of a dozen children.2 And you thought you had work/life balance challenges!

But it took more than 100 years before the first woman (Mary Corinna Putnam Jacobi) earned a pharmacy degree in the U.S. in 1863, in the midst of the Civil War.

The growth of women in pharmacy

More than 100 years later the number of female graduates from U.S. pharmacy schools has surpassed the number of male graduates.3, 4 In recognition of the contributions women make in pharmacy, starting this year, October 12 is officially named National Women Pharmacists Day.


However, although women make up 58% of pharmacists, women own less than one-third of independent pharmacies.5

Increasing ownership among women

The Women in Pharmacy — Own It program is working to increase the number of women pharmacy owners. This program recognizes that women face extra challenges, from gender stereotypes to expectations at home. Women in Pharmacy — Own It provides women pharmacists the skills, resources and connections to thrive as pharmacy owners.

Women in Pharmacy — Own It focuses on four areas:


  • Mentorship. Women pharmacy students and pharmacists are matched with experienced female owners. Beginning pharmacists see and learn how women pharmacy owners have succeeded. 

  • Leadership. leadershipPharmacy owners must be able to build and lead a team. “It’s important that we set standards and expectations for our team, and lead new team members,” said Diana Arouchanova, owner of CliniCare Pharmacy in Northridge, California, during a Women in Pharmacy panel at McKesson ideaShare.

    Successful owners also lead outside the store. They advocate on issues affecting the industry. “We have to speak up, step up, write letters and call representatives to make changes we need for the profession,” said Christine Lee-Wilson, owner of Professional Pharmacy in Baltimore.


  • Ownership. RxOwnership® helps pharmacists navigate the process, from writing a business plan to assembling experts, such as accountants and lawyers.  

  • work-life-balanceWork/life balance. Learn from women who have done it. See how others prioritize goals and give their full attention to wherever they are: the pharmacy or home.

Ellie Darj, owner of Corner Market & Pharmacy in Silver Spring, Maryland, opened her first pharmacy more than a decade ago. “Ownership offers the rewards and advantages of a flexible schedule and daily interactions with patients, as well as financial independence,” she said.

If ownership sounds appealing, visit www.rxownership/Women-in-pharmacy/ to see how Women in Pharmacy — Own It works and to read success stories of successful women pharmacy owners.


Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for, the content provided herein.

1 “Women in Pharmacy,” American Pharmacists Association., LINK
2 “This Mother’s Day We’re Paying Tribute to Elizabeth Gooking Greenleaf, the Mother of Pharmacy,” Digital Pharmacist, May 11, 2017. LINK
3 “Pharmacist: Most equal job for men and women,” Annalyn Kurtz, CNN, Feb. 11, 2013. LINK
4 “Academic Pharmacy’s Vital Statistics,” American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy., LINK
5 “Preserving and Supporting Women Pharmacy Ownership,” Pharmacy Podcast, Dec. 12, 2017. LINK