Pharmacist Spotlight: Erick Axcell
This month’s pharmacist spotlight features Erick Axcell. Erick is the owner of Jayhawk Pharmacy and Jayhawk Pharmacy West in Lawrence, Kan. He shared with us why he decided to become a pharmacist, what makes independent pharmacy so rewarding, and some of the experiences he’s gained along the way.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a pharmacist and why?
I grew up in a pharmacy family, my parents started Jayhawk Pharmacy three months before I was born. There are pictures of me sitting on the counter of the pharmacy at seven weeks old. I kind of fought going into the profession when I was in college due to me wanting to forge my own path but after graduating and a few years in Sports Management I started looking at following in my father’s footsteps.
I think the first time I really realized I wanted to become a pharmacist was when a friend told me a story of an acquaintance of his that told him how he had had cancer and did not have enough money for the medications. He told my friend how my dad worked with him to get him his medications and told him to just pay him when he could. That really stuck with me about how you can influence others’ lives in a positive way and care for those sick and in need.
Why did you decide to become a pharmacy owner and what do you find most rewarding about independent pharmacy?
I gradually took over the pharmacy from my parents after graduating. I really like the ability to own your own business and mold it to reflect how you want to serve your community.
I tried experiences at chain and other stores on rotations and found I only wanted to go the route of independent pharmacy because I wanted to feel like I was making a difference in other’s lives. I did not feel like I could do that in a different setting where everything is about being a cog in the wheel.
The most rewarding part is the patient interactions and the genuine thankfulness you see in your customers knowing they are cared for and that we as a pharmacy did that.
What advice would you offer to students still in pharmacy school or those considering becoming a pharmacist?
My advice would be to get as well rounded of an experience during rotations and working as an intern as possible. The only way to truly know what type of pharmacy you want to practice is through experience. Also, that it is hard work but extremely rewarding both in school and once you get into the profession. If you have a genuine care for helping others and making a difference in people’s health, then pharmacy is a terrific way to go.
Lastly to always keep learning. Do not ever think you know everything or enough. This profession is continually expanding and changing. You must learn to adapt to thrive.
You currently serve on the Kansas Board of Pharmacy. What has that experience taught you about community pharmacies in Kansas?
I honestly believe independent pharmacies are the backbone of the practice of pharmacy in Kansas and their health is paramount to serving all the communities in the state. Not just the bigger cities but the rural pharmacies that often serve multiple cities and counties.
We always must look at what is best for our profession and how we can expand our services and make our profession stronger. When that happens then community pharmacies become stronger.
What are you most proud of that your pharmacy has accomplished?
We love to give back to our community but do not want to make a big deal about it. We try to benefit those least fortunate in our community by giving to organizations that benefit them directly.
One of the more recent instances was a local non-profit that provides early education and basic life assistance such as food security and clothing was looking for multivitamins for their children because without school in session due to COVID-19, their basic nutrition needs were not being met. We were able to donate enough for every kid to be covered and were rewarded with a wonderful picture of all the kids holding up a sign saying “We Love Jayhawk Pharmacy.” That really touched me.