Lam: What are the good parts and bad parts about being a pharmacist?
Hartzell: I would say the good thing about being a pharmacist is that I enjoy the patient interaction and the professional interaction with other health-care providers—physicians, nurses, physical therapists—and helping patients achieve health outcomes. It’s very satisfying when you get to know that you had a positive role in a patient’s life.
I would say the hard thing about a pharmacist is—depending on where you work—long hours. It’s a very demanding job, stress-wise. If a patient needs a stat order on the floor, you need to get that order ready as promptly as possible. Or, if you have a sick kid in your pharmacy. No one wants to wait, but they’re going to have wait because there are other patients ahead of them. It can be stressful, and I think that’s the hardest part.
Lam: And what about the perks of being a business owner and running a pharmacy?
Hartzell: The flexibility is nice. Being able to set your own work schedule. But at the same time, you really can’t. If something happens, sometimes my other plans get bumped. For instance tomorrow, I can volunteer at my kid’s school for recess duty tomorrow. That means a lot to me that I have the ability to do that. The bad thing is I know that we’re having some billing issues, so I’m going to have to come in on Saturday. It’s kind of like a plus-minus thing.
Lam: Hartzell’s has been in your family for many years. Do you see the same people and do they know who you are?
Hartzell: They do. They call me Bob’s son.
Lam: Is that annoying?
Hartzell: No! My dad is a good guy, so that’s fine. The good thing is we have a lot of customers that have been here since I was younger. Sometimes I don’t work downstairs in the pharmacy as much, so it's nice to see the same patients coming in consistently. Our staff has been pretty stable. Every company has turnover, but of our 47 employees, at least 30 of them have been with us for the past 10 years. That’s pretty good, I think, and they’re great employees.
The biggest thing that’s changed is just the governmental and insurance environments out there right now. There’s a lot more regulations, a lot more paperwork, a lot more headaches. When I started being the president four or five years ago, a lot of the regulations were not as strict, stringent, and demanding with time and resources. And they’ve gotten more demanding as time has gone on. Mostly the regulation environment, the government environment, the insurance environment, the requirements put on us have exponentially increased in the last five years.
Lam: Is your father still involved with the pharmacy?
Hartzell: My dad is a pharmacist and a naturopath, so he still sees his patients. He comes in, and he doesn't manage our vitamin section—we have another pharmacist that does that—but he comes in and definitely lets his opinions be known about what should be in the vitamin section. He’s still very involved. He’s still the majority owner so obviously he has very much to say in what goes on.