School of Pharmacy News & Media Center
The University of Mississippi

Business to Pharmacy: The Best of Both Worlds

Posted on: September 22nd, 2015 by gegero
Stephanie Sollis receiving her white coat.

Stephanie Sollis receiving her white coat.

Stephanie Sollis, PY3

My road to pharmacy school was quite different than most of my classmates. While many of our students chose the traditional science and/or pre-pharmacy path, my choice was somewhat unusual. Before joining the School of Pharmacy in August 2013, I received an undergraduate degree in Health Services Administration (with minors in business and mathematics) from the University of Central Arkansas. I then went on to complete a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) from Ole Miss in 2013.

Pursuing an MBA (or, alternatively, a Master of Health Administration) is a typical route for someone pursuing higher education in health care administration. Although I wanted more of a scientific focus eventually, I knew that a Master’s degree would serve me well and give me a broader understanding of business – knowledge of which is invaluable. I applied for a spot in the Ole Miss Graduate School of Business (and later accepted) without ever stepping foot in Oxford! I’m so glad to know that my “gut instinct” was right as Oxford has become a place that is so near and dear to me.

While many probably question the reasoning behind my MBA track, pharmacy and business go hand in hand. It is helpful to have knowledge of both subjects in the pharmacy world. In the retail and industry settings, it is also helpful to understand “how to run a business” to relate cost and management aspects, as well as organizational behavior and beyond. In the health-system setting, one may be able to understand things like formulary decisions, more easily. There are also higher leadership opportunities, like pharmacy managers, chief pharmaceutical officers and other positions that may benefit from general business knowledge. I particularly enjoy the pharmacoeconomic aspect, and this concept is a component of my upcoming research project.

I have found that my business and graduate-level knowledge have made certain classes easier in pharmacy school, such as management, pharmacoeconomics, law and the biostatistics component of our Information Skills in Pharmacy Practice course. I would like to go on to pursue a career in health care or pharmacy administration upon graduation. I am still determining if a health system, academic or corporate retail setting will fit me best.

I would encourage anyone who is interested to pursue an MBA before or after pharmacy school. It is a real-world degree that is applicable in many different settings. It makes education and career-seeking candidates more marketable as well! I am so thankful that I chose a unique path with my education and will be privileged (one day) to be an alumna of two of the greatest schools on campus: the School of Pharmacy and the School of Business Administration!