Samuel Lee (PharmD ’12), president and CEO of Advanced Pharmacy Solutions, a durable medical equipment provider and specialty pharmacy, talks about how his experiences at the USC School of Pharmacy helped prepare him for pharmacy ownership and why the phrase “Trojan Family” has special meaning to him.
Please describe your current work and career highlights.
I am the president and CEO of Advanced Pharmacy Solutions (APS), a durable medical equipment provider and specialty pharmacy in Laguna Hills, CA. APS specializes in respiratory conditions requiring home mechanical ventilation and is licensed to operate as a pharmacy in six states. In addition to this pharmacy, I manage three independent retail pharmacies in Los Angeles. I graduated from the USC School of Pharmacy in 2012, and completed the USC/Ralphs Community Pharmacy Residency in 2013. At the end of pharmacy school at USC, I was awarded the Good Neighbor Pharmacy Award recognizing entrepreneurial spirit.
How did the resources and faculty members at USC help prepare you for what you are doing now.
USC provided several valuable experiences that helped prepare me for a career in pharmacy ownership. I remember taking electives my third year at pharmacy school with Professor Raffi Svadjian and learning how to value a pharmacy during the buy/sell process, how to study a pharmacy’s financial documents to determine a pharmacy’s true income and also management principles like human resources and pharmacy workflow. This was the perfect stepping stone for my fourth year administrative elective rotation with Dr. Ken Thai and his pharmacies in Los Angeles County. I was able to shadow Dr. Thai as he managed nine pharmacies at the time. He was a great mentor and with his advice, I applied for and was accepted to the USC/Ralphs Community Pharmacy Residency.
How would you describe the environment at the School of Pharmacy?
The environment at USC School Of Pharmacy is ideal for student involvement in organizations and associations. By joining these groups, students build rapport with faculty who help as volunteer advisors. There are many paths in pharmacy whether it be academia, managed care, pharmaceutical industry, retail, hospital, independent pharmacy ownership, etc. Based on the students’ preferences, they can join the appropriate student organizations and find the right mentors for them.
What factors originally drew you to USC School of Pharmacy?
I have grown up in Los Angeles most of my life and my parents have owned an independent pharmacy in Los Angeles for over two decades. USC was the perfect place for me to develop and grow as a pharmacist. I was attracted to the School for its long history of pharmacy innovation, proximity to home, faculty, and strong student organizations.
What advice do you have for students who may be interested in following a similar path to yours?
First, study hard and graduate pharmacy school. Along the way, make friends, find mentors, and explore your interests. During school, join student organizations like National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) to connect with peers who will challenge your thoughts and help grow your interests. Also, find a job while you are in school so you can learn time management and how pharmacy is practiced. The best way to learn pharmacy ownership is to work as an intern at an independent pharmacy where you can find a pharmacy owner mentor and see the business side of retail pharmacy. After graduating, get involved with California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) and connect with other pharmacy owners.
Is there anything else about your experience at USC that you’d like to share? What does the phrase “Trojan Family” mean to you?
Pharmacy is a small world so in our journeys as health care professionals, we will interact and connect with many of our fellow pharmacists. Since USC is one of the oldest pharmacy schools in Southern California, the Trojan Family is big and is made up of graduates with successful careers and businesses. I was lucky enough to meet a fellow USC School of Pharmacy alumni who was selling his 30-year-old specialty pharmacy and home health business, APS, in Laguna Hills, and he was determined to keep it in the Trojan Family. He liked me enough to offer me the business and I accepted. So, “Trojan Family” has special meaning as it pertains to APS — my first pharmacy venture as an owner, president and CEO.