The Business of Pharmacy Podcast™
March 27, 2023

Pharmacy Identity Shift | Blair Thielemier, PharmD, Pharmapreneur Academy

Pharmacy Identity Shift | Blair Thielemier, PharmD, Pharmapreneur Academy

Episode Summary: In this episode, host Mike Koelzer speaks with Blair Thielemeir, the founder of Pharmapreneur Academy, about the future of pharmacy and overcoming self-limiting beliefs. They explore the need for pharmacists to adapt and evolve, embrace entrepreneurship, and take a proactive approach to patient care. Additionally, they discuss the importance of mental health support and the challenges faced by pharmacists in balancing their personal and professional lives.


Key Topics:

Introduction of Blair Thielemeir and Pharma Printer Academy The evolving role of pharmacists in the healthcare industry

Overcoming self-limiting beliefs and embracing the "pharma entrepreneur" mindset Importance of market research and engaging with target audiences Addressing underlying patient issues, such as mental health and self-worth

The impact of technology and innovation on the pharmacy profession

Discrepancies between pharmacy education and real-world practice

Strategies for pharmacists to create new opportunities and forge new paths

Mental health challenges faced by pharmacists, including anxiety, depression, and burnout Personal experiences and the importance of seeking professional help

Overachieving, people-pleasing, and perfectionist tendencies in pharmacy

Setting boundaries and focusing on personal goals and interests

Elevate Pharmacy Summit

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Speech to text: 

Mike Koelzer, Host: [00:00:00] Blair, for those that haven't come across you online, introduce yourself and tell our listeners what we're talking about today.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: My name is Blair Thielemeir. I am the founder of Pharma Preneur Academy. I've been working really as a business development consultant specializing in and services that are billable through, a pharmacist collaborative or a standalone type agreement. Most of these practice models are focusing on preventative care and medication related conditions.

 Today, what we're talking about really is the future of pharmacy and how we can begin to step into the vision of what we have for our profession moving forward. Specifically looking at the psychology behind maybe what are some things that hold us back,as [00:01:00] professionals, and then how we can begin to overcome some of those.

Self-limiting beliefs.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It seems like the biggest problem with any change is having. Golden handcuffs, especially when there's tuition payback and the kids start coming and things like that, it's hard to leave your security.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Absolutely. Yeah. I, I definitely, you know, the golden handcuffs are, I think, inherent for any position you've got . I spent all this money on my degree and now I'm thinking about doing something that doesn't even require a, necessarily a, a license. If we're talking about health coaching specifically, there's this, that, like, I can't let go of the degree, the license, the, the box

in order to reach for something.

[00:02:00] And that's why I talk a lot about identity shifts because for me, I mean, definitely I've been there. I've tried to talk myself out of things so many times. I ended up having to really create a new word to describe myself and this word pharma entrepreneur, was something that I created to kind of help me shift into that new version of what I wanted my career to look like.

To have more flexibility to be able to work in a context as a consultant. That was not something I had ever seen anyone in pharmacy school do. It was very scary to kind of chart this path for myself, but also exhilarating. And it was one of those things that I didn't have everything mapped out and that was really hard for [00:03:00] me and I think will resonate with a lot of pharmacists that they're like, oh, just give me the protocol for building my business.

and it's like, business is an act of self-expression and very difficult to do. to do that if you don't know who you are and what it is that you're expressing. So I tell people whenever I don't wanna have a conversation about what I do for a living,I'm sitting on a plane and someone's like, Hey, what, what do you do for work?

I just tell 'em I'm a pharmacist because if I don't want to continue that conversation, that kind of, usually people have this preconceived notion of, oh, I know exactly what a pharmacist does and who this person is. I needed to kind of, yeah, I needed to like, create this more interesting way to describe myself.

that invites curiosity and I actually coach my clients to do [00:04:00] this as well. What would you call yourself if you had to rename yourself? you know, if you were to choose your title, what would that look like?

Mike Koelzer, Host: With Marketing Blair, you've read all these, marketing said that, you're not selling a hammer to somebody who wants to hang a picture. You're selling the hole. And if you go even further than that, you can say, well, you're not just selling a hole to hang a picture.

You're selling the feeling that the picture's gonna bring somebody. Stuff like that. that can get kind of corny sometimes you'll watch like, Tv and I think Pampers is good for this, they'll show like all this beautiful stuff and all of a sudden it's like Pampers at the end.

In some companies I know Apple can do that in Nike and maybe Pampers can do it, but sometimes it's like, ah, that's kind of a stretch. And with pharmacists, that's an interesting question.

If you ask pharmacists who they are,what do they come up with? Then sometimes it's sad because there's some people that, let's pick on the [00:05:00] PBMs. There's some people who have said, you are worth this. This is your worth. 20 cents on something. It makes me think of someone who's had trauma as a child and their dad is telling 'em they're a good for nothing kind of thing, and it's like somebody else doesn't give you your value, but on the other hand, if they're paying it sort of is the value there.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: it's tough. It's tough to walk this line. I just spoke with a pharmacist. She's a pharmacy owner in California and I've worked with her on and off for probably about five years and when she first came to me, she really wanted to do something in women's health and create a program where they were doing, first hormone testing, in women's health.

Now eventually building out more of a community that, or for women that are going through menopause also, to connect these women, with support systems to [00:06:00] each other. So, I see, what she's creating is her pharmacy as kind of a destination for health and wellness that she's attracting, women that are her age, that are like her, she's her own avatar.

So she's building out the program that she wishes she had when she was going through menopause. And I think if we look at our own personal stories, where we've come from, you know, I've been healing through postpartum depression,

and that is a subject that's near and dear to my heart in women's health because I've been through it and I understand what that looks like.

And for us to kind of take off that expert hat and just be a person that. Has also dealt with some hard things, [00:07:00] whether it's personally or family members. That is the spark that I see when I have conversations with pharmacists that lights them up, that they go, oh, I get it. Like, I can connect with these people, I can connect them to the information, but also the support and the community so that they're not being treated in isolation for some of these issues, especially in mental health

issues.there's so much, there's just so much isolation, especially in the medical community. It's difficult to get to that true healing. If we aren't willing to go a little bit deeper with our patients and with our clients to understand, okay, well maybe this isn't an adherence issue.

Maybe this is a self-worth issue, or maybe this is an unhealthy [00:08:00] relationship with food issues or whatever that looks like. you're not gonna know exactly what program to create to offer to these people unless you ask them what their needs are, or you've been through it yourself, and you have an understanding of what steps you personally took to get through this.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I think there's certain conversations where pharmacists probably don't want to go certain places with people.

Even if you've been through it, you might have your fears of what's gonna come out in the midst of that conversation, am I gonna break down into a, uh, puddle, talking to someone about it for the first time or something.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Yeah. And that's why we have to do our individual work before we can, really hold space. And I'm not suggesting that we be therapist to 

people, but it is, to me, when I spoke at that conference that I mentioned [00:09:00] one of the things that came out is there was a pharmacy that said, oh, we're, we're dispensing tons of Wego V and people are interested in it. In weight management, how can I support them further? And I said, well, that's a great question. Why don't you ask your customers, ask your patients what their needs are. And if there is underlying depression or anxiety or something else going on, it's going to be very difficult for them to lose weight no matter what.

Is that something that you could provide a referral,to community resources or at least, help people become aware of this? This could be something that you could look into. So I don't necessarily think that we need to have all of the solutions to have this conversation with people, but to just be aware that there could be some.

Other [00:10:00] underlying things going on that we could then refer,and make recommendations 

Mike Koelzer, Host: Blair, where is the drop off? Let's say you have a lot of successful clients that you coach and so on, but somebody who is maybe not as long range, I guess success is a little bit more subjective, but let's say they're not long range. What is a drop off point and why? You hear it a lot in the conversations I have, it's kind of cliche.

Pharmacists love to prepare and it seems like there's so much preparation and it almost seems like, if a pharmacist could just. Have somebody pay them a dollar for something, just turn the corner. But I imagine, I'm just thinking this, a lot of pharmacists don't turn the corner and when you don't turn the corner, you get a lot of ideas and all this stuff building up, but I imagine they don't turn the corner.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: That's [00:11:00] putting yourself out there, that is super scary. We've said, don't go after people. we're not salespeople. we're not marketers. We hang back, people come to us. That's how I think medicine has traditionally worked. But when you're creating this type of program, you're essentially making an offer in a clinical program.

That's when people kind of go, I feel a little weird about selling, or, or being too salesy. And that's, some mindset work. I think that could be an opportunity to get into the psychology part of it. If you believe that what you have to offer is valuable and your solution can actually help people, why would you feel weird about offering it?

Why would you feel [00:12:00] weird about telling someone that you could help them and in exchange for your time, this is what it's going to cost. . And so I think those people that I see kind of never really like launch, they're like getting ready to get ready to get ready. And they're in that, I'm gonna get this certification and then I'm gonna do this, and then I need to have a website, and then I need to have a really convincing marketing flier and a cool logo and all this stuff.

I'm just like, that's putting the cart way before the horse in my opinion. I think the step that many new entrepreneurs miss is the market research part of it. You've got this idea that you think is brilliant, that you think is gonna work, but how are you testing and validating that idea in your target market? to get a better [00:13:00] sense of like, oh, maybe they want less information and more personalized

Mike Koelzer, Host: recommendations. so, I think that putting yourself out there and having these, we don't even call 'em sales calls, but just having these conversations, with people that are in your ideal target market, just to ask them the questions of, what are you struggling the most with?

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: what have you tried before that's not worked? What have you tried that has worked? What would be most helpful in helping you to get the result that they're after is to, to that goal. It's not, no, I really just want my A1C below seven so my doctor doesn't, get on to making like, no, that's not what our patients care about.

They care about, well, am I going to be able to, function better at work, to have less brain fog, to have less stomach issues, to sleep better at night, to [00:14:00] be more present in my day-to-day, to be less stressed and anxious to, whatever that looks like, how does it apply into their life today?

Because we all are guilty of it. You see this in different industries. The financial planning industry has to convince people to plan for the future, and the healthcare industry has to convince people to plan for their future self and what their health looks like when we take that conversation into the present.

What are you dealing with right now that I can help you with? The question really changes. The answers that you're gonna get.

Mike Koelzer, Host: I'm all for that Blair on , testing of business and, just being, putting stuff on social media and the next morning you can find out what has better ideas and I'm so thankful that people don't have to throw their everything to something. They don't have to build a store and put up a sign and do all that [00:15:00] anymore with that.

There's kind of a beauty to some of that. Like you and I talk, Blair, you're working from home now, but in the past you've been in an office and on the downside it's more of a commitment on the upside, you probably felt different when you were in the office.

Part of that money went to just the feeling of maybe scared, but also kind of proud.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: . Yeah. it's such a, I don't know, a strange thing to put yourself outside of your comfort. and to grow into and lean into that discomfort. For me, so here in the state of Arkansas, we pass something that allows pharmacists to prescribe birth control. I'm thinking, oh wow, every pharmacy in the state is doing this, right?


it's still not being implemented. So, my question is really [00:16:00] what is the challenge of creating that space, creating that, carving out that time to offer the clinical service to create an appointment based model and. These services can be delivered via telehealth,in my state.

So it may be different in different states, but many of the programs that I've seen, especially the health coaching type programs, can be delivered virtually. So creating a space and creating that time, carving out that, okay, I'm gonna be doing consults for women's health on Wednesdays from two to four, and leaving that spot open for people to book, to have that time and space to say, okay, I'm spending that time.

I'm setting it aside. I'm sacrificing this time. You have to [00:17:00] create that. in your pharmacy or in your life or whatever, so that when you're putting it out on social media, you're putting out this offer to help that you've already got the time to take on these new clients. Because if you don't, create that space, then you're just kind of spinning your wheels.

Mike Koelzer, Host: This is kind of a cop up, but sometimes in pharmacy. I think what might be hard about shifting gears is there's some businesses where, let's say that you are a real estate agent, and let's say you're working x hours a week and the market starts to drop.

Now maybe you're only working 25 hours a week, you're making less, there's not as many calls. , you've slowed down. But like PBMs, I think the problem is a lot of pharmacies. when the market's dropping out and so on. [00:18:00] It's not like the real estate agent who's now gone down 15 hours. The pharmacies are working 40 hours now, maybe 45, because the profits are being slashed, but they're busier than ever. The extra time is not there.

And so in this example here, that's where the real estate agent might say, I've got 15 hours a week, I'm seeing this, but thankfully I've got more time. So I can set this up, I can study this, I can do a new career, whatever. With the PBM stuff, it's like this. Cliche of the boiling water with a frog in it.

it's like you're getting busier and getting less, and so I know it's just an excuse, but that's where I think a lot of people are.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Absolutely. Yeah. I think that, many people in healthcare are not happy with the reimbursement rates and even looking at pharmacist provider status, so even if we got provider status tomorrow, we're [00:19:00] 

I'm still gonna have this problem. We're still, we're still gonna have workflow inefficiencies.

We're still going to have a model that favors volume based dispensing. To your point, Mike, I mean, the more you fail, the more money you lose. At some point. There needs to be, a kind of a line in the sand of, I'm no longer accepting that or drawing that boundary or whatever, and I'm not a pharmacy owner, so I can't imagine how difficult it is to make that

change because you've, but you've got so much money tied up in the inventory and the employees and the store and,and all of it that it really is a paradigm shift that we would be able to charge for cognitive services or to create something, another service line. So I'm definitely,I'm, uh, [00:20:00] Definitely considerate of the reimbursement and how challenging it makes Everything in healthcare, the cost of healthcare is going up and up, and we'll continue to do that un unless there is some kind of shift that begins to happen that focuses on more preventative services.and I think that who, who best to offer that preventative conversation, then a pharmacist, but it's going to take a lot of people committed to these conversations to kind of turn that tide. So instead of waiting for, well, I wish the organizations would do more. I wish the pharmacy schools would change.

 you know, I wish the PBMs would stop being, so 

greedy. There is an individual element [00:21:00] that we all have choices in our lives and in our professional careers. Making a different choice is extremely difficult.

and I don't want to minimize that at all because, when we first started talking, we were saying that people get to that point of getting ready to get ready

but fail to ever launch because that's the psychology of, what truly is holding us back as a profession is that.

individuality of what does it mean to you to have a successful professional career as a pharmacist? What does that look like from an individual standpoint? And I mean, Ithink we can absolutely all get there, but many pharmacists are coming to me saying, I wanna leave the pharmacy altogether.

And, I'm like, well, you have a lot to offer. So what are some things that you are interested in, that you've been [00:22:00] through personally that you wanna bring more into your practice of pharmacy? And that's when people start 

lighting up and they start going, oh, well actually I do a lot of breath work and it helps me to relax.

Or I've done, Acupuncture and it's helped with my pain and it's helped with me standing all day long. And so they start telling me all these things that are more kind of natural and holistic methods. And I said, well, why don't you talk to your clients about this stuff?

And I say, well, because I feel like, because I'm a pharmacist, I can only talk about medications. 

And I said, well, I don't think that the scope of practice necessarily prevents pharmacists from having conversations about health and wellness,and wellbeing. So is that something that, if we were to rewrite what the [00:23:00] Practice Act or the scope of practice looks like?

what are some things that you would include if you were to rewrite your job description, which is essentially what entrepreneurship, allows you to

What would you design for yourself?

Mike Koelzer, Host: What kind of mental struggles. Do you see a lot of people come to you with, 

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Stuck, trapped, fearful, angry,

 I think there's the cynical pharmacist who is the biggest.

Following people on Facebook and I think pharmacists have a right to be angry. I think that,the direction of our profession is something that we really feel, kind of, powerlessness over and many of the pharmacists that are pursuing entrepreneurship or just pursuing kind of new opportunities in non-traditional routes, so not necessarily entrepreneurship, that can be entrepreneurship or [00:24:00] whatever. I think what is most helpful for people that are in that space of feeling powerlessness over their career trajectory is to take a little bit of time to lean into those feelings of, I'm angry because of this, or , I'm frustrated at this, or I'm feeling anxious or depressed or whatever because of this.

So that self-awareness is really what that is. I'm. not a proponent of building a business just because you hate the job that you're in, you can always get a different job. and that is a choice as well, to change positions. So there's a lot of career coaches and people out there that are helping pharmacists to kind of reimagine their career.

I've always done it through entrepreneurship, which takes a little bit more of that self-expression, that self-awareness of what I wanna create, [00:25:00] for my own personal brand. And, I think there are a lot of pharmacists that are struggling with anxiety and depression and burnout and all of these things. Because we keep that expert hat on. we think, oh, I should be able to think my way out of this, or I should be able to figure this out on my own. So we don't reach out for help and we don't reach out for support, and we try to die, everything to, to our detriment. Sometimes I think.

Mike Koelzer, Host: One of the best things that happened to me, well, it's funny how I even phrase that because about 15 years ago, there was a huge legal thing with people that were pretty close to me. It wasn't related to the business, but a huge legal thing.

 And it so shook me that I had no choice then. Get [00:26:00] professional help the next day and get some meds to calm me down and have that safety net of whoever I could find. And my family saw me crying with my wife and things like that.

 It hit me so hard that you might as well have written on it, all right, you're gonna get all this professional help now. There's no other way to do it. I didn't feel suicidal, but I just felt it was so, so much pressure. I just felt I wasn't gonna exist at all. It wasn't like I wanted to die.

I just felt like no human could go through what I felt I was going through. I think the benefit of that though is it made me depend on professional help. And I think what happens with a lot of people is you think that you made it through pharmacy school, you're still able to go to your job, you hate it but it's that slippery slope.

No one ever gives you what I was given to say, get help like today.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think that anyone that's out there [00:27:00] listening to this and needs that support, we really, we wanna offer a community for. People too, to raise their hand and say, Hey, I'm struggling. And I've had several clients that I have referred to, to seek mental health services.

and a lot of it was around this overachieving, people pleasing, perfectionist kind of personality of like, I'm gonna hold everything together because I'm Superman or Supergirl or whatever. and yet I feel on the inside like such a fraud, like such a failure, like, just really struggling.

So when someone comes to me and they say, I'm burned now. I'm angry, I'm trapped, I'm anxious, I'm depressed. I. That's wonderful and thank you for sharing that. So now we've diagnosed the issue. Then we can start talking about those changes that you [00:28:00] wanna make and that you wanna bring in.

 I was working with a client, this was a couple years ago, and she kept talking about not having time to work on her business and, and so we would get on the phone on Tuesdays like, what'd you get accomplished this weekend? Well, it was my cousin's daughter's birthday party, so we had to take the whole family. It was just always something going on with a very large extended family.

and my question for her was, do you really need to be putting your energy towards those types of things? When you are telling me that your priority is building this business, would your family members understand? If you said, I'm sorry, I'm not gonna be able to make it to,my extended niece's [00:29:00] birthday party because I'm working on something that's really important to 


and sometimes that's a difficult conversation to have , especially with family members that, you know, that, that don't like when we create boundaries 

Mike Koelzer, Host: I had this one worker and she had a different cultural background and she would say to me, Hey, I can't come in, tomorrow because my, you know, fifth cousin once removed, had a baby or something like that.

I'm like, are you kidding? I mean , I guess that's a German in me. 

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: And I think that's important to understand, if I'm working with someone, like what are your values and is family values one of your biggest priorities? If so, creating special time for that, but also holding space for your own time. Because I think, especially as women, I see us giving so [00:30:00] much of ourselves to our family that we're not keeping anything 

that really fuels us.

So I had a conversation with, it was a discovery call. Someone that I did not end up working with. because she was not in a place, she was not ready. And the question, you know, I asked is like, well, what do you like to do for fun? What are you passionate about? And, it was so sad, she said, well, I really used to enjoy decorating my house, but I really haven't even had a chance to slow down and enjoy that in the past few years because I've been so busy at work. And so we're getting so much of our personal worth and satisfaction from our work. If the work doesn't feel meaningful, if the work doesn't feel purposeful, then you can see how that link to my life isn't meaningful. My life has no purpose or

[00:31:00] direction. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: I was just watching something on YouTube the other night And this guy, I think he talked about four things. It was, uh, my neighbor's job and something else. I forget what it was. Anyway, if you look at even the last few years, what has happened with a lot. Covid, a lot of church breakdowns, and neighborhoods. You know, you pull your car in and get the door closed before anybody sees you.

And your needs as a human don't go away. and so his thing was exactly what you're saying, Blair. Those three things kind of get funneled into that last quadrant of, of job. And it's like jobs aren't really meant to do that per se. That's, you know, maybe where people say, well, then I'm gonna go off and be an entrepreneur.

It's like, yeah, but how many entrepreneur, family breakdowns are there? A hundred hours a week and their family breaks down and all that. So there's a spot for a job, but it's not everything.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Yeah, I'm seeing this a [00:32:00] lot in the corporate kinda startup space is a, a bigger focus on workplace culture. and developing, developing leaders that have more of these soft skills and that are able to provide, you know, a space. And this is definitely not something that I'm seeing in the healthcare corporate space just yet, but I'm seeing it in other spaces.

So my hope is that there will be some trickle down effects as we're talking about employee satisfaction and company culture. It's such a focus in pretty much every industry besides healthcare I have a theory that one of the things that's really driving a lot of the reform and a lot of the opportunity for us in healthcare.

is, there are so many healthcare professionals that feel [00:33:00] like they're being used as, a warm body with a license, and they're interchangeable and they're, their company doesn't care about what they're doing, which, it's just as difficult to create a business that you can have that balance of work, of personal and professional that you can find meaningful work in a company, as an employee, just like you can find it as an employee on the other side, you cannot find it as a, as an entrepreneur.

  1. if that, too much of the self-worth and the achievement and the perfectionism and the people pleasing are coming from outside of you versus being self-determined and 


Mike Koelzer, Host: why is that? In healthcare, we're seeing that, why would workers not be taken care of? Is it the quick growth [00:34:00] and covid and things like that? 

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: That's a great question. I think it's such a healthcare system. Nebulous disconnected kind of thing where we've got the insurance players and we've got the pharma companies, and then we've got the actual licensed professionals that are providing the services and, , connecting the dots of caring about the people in those roles hopefully becomes, something that these healthcare businesses are seeing as directly tied to their profits.

Because like we said in the beginning, there's not a lot of incentive to change unless there's enough agitation that's happening. There was a study I saw on LinkedIn, posted by a LinkedIn news editor. and it was essentially that pharmacist during the pandemic and the year after had about a 43% [00:35:00] increase in job transitions.

So what I'm seeing is more difficulty attracting talent, more difficulty around talent retention in the healthcare space. And it does create this opportunity for. Well, if we were to reimagine what practice looks like, what's truly patient-centered healthcare model looks like, because we're all patients.

I mean, we're, we are the professionals, but we're also the patients in this system at multiple points in our lives. So we're seeing both sides of these issues. It's really about standing up and articulating what we see these problems in, specifically in our individual professions. 

Because the physical therapist and the [00:36:00] primary care doctors and the orthopedics, we don't talk to each other very often.

If you look at your LinkedIn feed or your Facebook feed, chances are

everyone that you are connected with. is in your industry, 

There's not a lot of interprofessional communication. It's almost like we're kind of stuck in this algorithm that's showing us people that look and think and talk and do exactly like we do.

And we're getting kind of stuck as we're trying to solve these bigger issues with innovative ideas. It's important to have outside insights, and I think that's where the networking and the conversation is about, who are you as a pharma or, your elevator pitch.

you know that you call yourself. I think it's important for us to. [00:37:00] understand what we stand for, and be able to speak to that and have a vision for, what we would really like to do in our career in healthcare and, hopefully I think that will begin to change the perception of what pharmacists can do if they hear pharmacists talking about health and wellness and preventative services and health coaching that creates more opportunities for pharmacist jobs.

and that's ultimately what my mission is in advancing professional pharmacy. It's creating new jobs and new opportunities for pharmacists.

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's sad for me to say, but I think pharmacy's a big career where the profession or that gets people into. It's not necessarily the same one as what they [00:38:00] see in reality on the outside. And I don't mean to say it can't be, I mean, you can go through college and have this dream of change and being an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur and all that kind of stuff. I'm not saying it can't be, but I can't think of a profession that might be sold. Let's face it, you always think the grass is greener on this side of your diploma than that side. But pharmacy, I think, is a pretty big disconnect.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Yeah. Yeah, I would agree with that. I think, in school we talk a lot about patient care opportunities and then in reality we get out in the wild. And it's wild. It's to type as fast as you can answer, as many phones as you can, check people out from the register, get to the window as fast as you can.

It is very much a different reality than what students are being told to expect. So , I [00:39:00] think it is always helpful to give people an honest look at what you're spending your time doing. and.if there is something that we need to look at from an educational curriculum point of view, what would that be?

what would be helpful in terms of helping these students see that opportunity and maybe see that disconnect and somehow try to kind of backfill in, something that, that can be something that's driving our profession forward that's evolving the profession we've been at a crossroads for like 30 years and I'm like, okay,

Which way are we going?

We've been standing in the same spot for years and since they made the DRE at the end of the nineties. Pharmacy jobs haven't really changed a whole lot.[00:40:00] 

Mike Koelzer, Host: It's almost like the cart came before the horse kind. It's like we're gonna get this training and hope it changes.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: absolutely. So, highly trained, underutilized,is the words that when I'm talking to people outside of pharmacy, the words that I used to describe pharmacists,

Mike Koelzer, Host: That's not a knock on the profession from me. I'm just saying that the colleges have to change already in college, the first two years are kind of like junior and senior year of high school.

You're getting your English and all that kind of stuff. It's like, why is that and why maybe wouldn't, community pharmacy be two years of pharmacy and like some schools do three years of, business and then two years of entrepreneurship with the background of pharmacy.


 There's a ton of stuff to teach, but to throw people out there over-educated without those kinds of skills, I think that's a place where you could do some really cool [00:41:00] things and maybe keep. tuition debt is down too. It's not a real pretty thing to come out and wanna start a new business when you're $150,000 in debt.

So it just seems like you've gotta , I don't mean face reality, like, we have to show them that it sucks to be a retail pharmacist. I'm not saying that. I'm saying the reality of life, these aren't there. That's why it behooves all of you to study more business and entrepreneurship and let's make a business and let's spend a year at a medical non pharmacy place and get to know the leaders and CEOs, it just seems there has to be a reality check with that.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Yeah. I think that there's so much opportunity for a pharmacist to create these opportunities , to create these new jobs. These aren't necessarily jobs that people are applying for, but they are something that like going to work in a local primary care office, for 

example, reaching out to a local physician and saying, [00:42:00] Hey, what are you dealing with in terms of, prior authorizations

and medication related.

issues that I could be helping out with as a consultant. Even a once a week type deal where you could be on call as a referral or via telemedicine or whatever, just to know that this opportunity even exists. I remember in school we had an entrepreneurship elective, and I didn't take it because reading through the syllabus, it was about how to own a brick and mortar

pharmacy. And although I've always had this entrepreneurial drive, I knew it wouldn't be brick and mortar. I knew somehow it had to be online. It had to be something that, that I could, be able to work from home kind of thing. And I just, I never saw myself in [00:43:00] that traditional brick and mortar entrepreneurship class.

so I didn't take it. and so, and asking people what they learned in that class, there were a lot of case studies on Walgreens and that kind of thing. And I'm like, that's not personal branding. That's not networking, business development. those aren't those skills.

they're different sets of skills. Not that they're good or bad, but these career development skills I think are probably maybe more helpful for the 


Mike Koelzer, Host: And to be fair to the colleges, we humans tend to think that the past was kind of like it is now. I look back at my Amazon account from let's say mid nineties, and now it's like I got three Amazon trucks at a time waiting to pull into my driveway, you know, and you look at the mid nineties and it's like, oh, I bought three [00:44:00] things from Amazon year.

You know, I bought two books and a CD or something. you just think it was always part of it. So, without crucifying the schools, it's like, Things have changed and I know they're changing too. Well, what do I know? I haven't been to the school to read the curriculum and stuff like that.

I'm sure it's coming along, but it has to be closer to reality.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Yeah. I think preparing students 

for what they'll be looking for in the next 10 to 20 years,that's where I would like to see pharmacies put out a statement even on what we believe the future of the profession looks like.

Here's our goals for the number of pharmacists. So if there really is a shortage of pharmacists,

What does the data look like in the next 10 or 20 years?

Because we're seeing less students applying to pharmacy school as well. Because what they're hearing from pharmacists who are in the profession is, yeah, there are jobs available, but no one wants 

them. And,[00:45:00] that's not enticing to young talent to enter a profession with 

that big of an investment 

for something that, that's maybe not exactly where you wanna be professionally. So I, I think, prepare students for,looking at AI technology for example. How is AI technology gonna revolutionize the clinical experience in the next 10 years? 

Mike Koelzer, Host: In the next 10 minutes,

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: 10 minutes.

 It's so crazy. 

I was talking to one of my friends and, she has a child that's been going through some really difficult, mental health struggles, and so they actually contacted the suicide prevention hotline and she said as her child was communicating back and forth, she realized that the child was speaking with a.

The child was speaking with an AI that was asking [00:46:00] questions around what thoughts are you having, like, articulating those and she said, do you realize that you're not talking to a human on the other end of that? and the child said, yeah, actually, I think I kind of prefer it that way.

Mike Koelzer, Host: How things have changed where I had to call up the phone company or something. It's like I need help, I press the right button or something and then I hold and I'm like, oh crap, I gotta talk to a human. that's changed from like two years ago I always knew when one of my employees was on with a talk thing, cause they'd be like, yes, yes, You know, trying to get it to

And then they have like fake bubble noise, you know, for that. And after seeing Chad, g p t, after seeing that as like within a week, I'm like, I don't want to talk to a human.

It's amazing. 

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: It really is. I mean, I think that there's so many [00:47:00] things that are changing rapidly. I've been talking about 3D printing, at what point are we gonna be 3D printing people's medications out for them? I mean, there's so many things that will change, that technology will change in the next 10 or 20 years.

My question is, if you're not a walking encyclopedia, That isn't really necessary. What then do you want to be doing what conversations need to be had by a human? What, what is the value of 

 a human connection, when is that appropriate and when is it not?

Mike Koelzer, Host: This weekend. I watched 3D printing on TikTok 

They printed a safe, and the safe then had hinges for the door and the dial. I'm sure it wasn't deluxe, but the dial to do the [00:48:00] combination was all printed as one unit. They didn't put these things together. It was all printed as one with a hinge and a combo lock on it. Just amazing.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: it really is. I mean, the stuff that they're doing with 3D printing with ai, like, I don't even think that I would venture to say what I think the next

dinner 20 

years looks



I, I don't think anyone


Mike Koelzer, Host: Blair, you've got one of your, uh, three ring circus things going on,this Friday, 

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: yeah, so that's the Elevate Summit. This is the seventh year that we've had it. So we started really the very first virtual pharmacy conference in the industry back in 2017. This year I am super excited because it's more about networking, it's more about business development [00:49:00] and connecting with people that can help get you to that next level in your business. I'm bringing in one of the facilitators that I used for our healing medicine retreat in Costa Rica, and he's going to be leading us through a session. To help develop, what is that bigger vision we have for our careers or for our business? He's gonna be doing that Friday morning. Friday afternoon, we're gonna have a mastermind with some hot seats. And then Saturday kind of continues that conversation around how to set up an offer.

And so I'm actually gonna be sharing a template that I used and have been using for the past eight years to create a proposal for a client. So we started off this conversation, really about how it sometimes can [00:50:00] feel icky to put yourself out there and to make an offer. But if you can get down on paper, we call this the O D T proposal structure.

If you can get down on paper the objectives of what your program accomplishes, including what the client's results are, not just our hope for

what results that they're gonna get, 

 Since we started it in 2017, we've probably trained over 5,000 pharmacists from around the world. through this event. So it kind of continues on what we've been talking about today is this psychology behind what may be holding us back as individuals. And if we were to remove some of those challenges or barriers, those limiting beliefs that we have about what we're capable of.

Then [00:51:00] being able to envision what is the potential for what we could create with our knowledge, with our background, with everything that we have to build something new that not only serves our clients in a new way, but feels purposeful and meaningful to us as well as professionals.

Mike Koelzer, Host: We'll put a link to that in the show notes. player, always a pleasure talking to you. Thanks for what you're doing for the profession. I think somebody who's helping lead our vision. Is near the top or at the top of the important things we talk about.

So keep doing what you're doing and I look forward to talking again.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: Well, thank you Mike. I appreciate that. Thank you so much for having me and for the advocacy work that you're doing, with this podcast. And I think the more pharmacists that we have [00:52:00] that are using their voices and standing in their truth and wanting to be heard in terms of,an individual vision for what our profession looks like moving forward, kind of creates this movement towards what's best for our profession moving forward.

So thank you. I really appreciate always being here and, and it's always a pleasure. 

Mike Koelzer, Host: right, Blair. Thanks. We'll talk again soon.

Blair Thielemeir, PharmdD: thank you.