Nikki Adams, owner of Adams Family Pharmacy, transitioned to a career in independent pharmacy in 2014 to serve her hometown. Since she opened her store, she has also created a nonprofit, served on the board of the county health department and brought in a primary provider.
Adams Family Pharmacy delivers medications from as far away as 50 miles to ensure the people in her community and the surrounding area can get the medications they need and remain compliant with their prescriptions.
Adams’ career, which would ultimately lead her to independent ownership, had an unexpected start with her becoming the director of pharmacy at a critical care hospital at the age of 23. The 23-bed hospital is based in the community where she grew up.
“I know that’s a little strange for a 23-year-old to be the director of a hospital, but I was the only pharmacist, so I got it by default,” Adams said. “During that time there was a huge pharmacist shortage in rural areas of Georgia.”
“They let me package, they let me deliver, they pretty much let me do whatever I needed to do to make the patient happy.”
By 2005 Adams had her first child and when faced with having to arrange her own maternity leave, she ultimately decided to work for a chain store as a staff pharmacist from 2006-2008. There she would fill 700-800 scripts a day.
After three years she opened a different chain store franchise in 2008 in Americus, Georgia.
“They taught me everything I needed to know about independent pharmacy,” Adams said. “They let me package, they let me deliver, they pretty much let me do whatever I needed to do to make the patient happy.”
In February of 2014 Adams decided to open her own store in rural Georgia to serve the community she grew up in. The chain she had worked for was, at first, employee focused and there were efforts to make sure pharmacists were fulfilled.
As time went on, despite the store doing well in sales she regularly experienced conference calls where she was asked to accomplish more.
“It was very discouraging for me because I knew I was giving the very best that I could do, but it was never enough for them,” Adams said. “That’s were burnout comes from.”
Ultimately, she decided she wanted to give the people of her town her best instead and fill a vacancy of service that had existed in her hometown area for 60 years.
Her dad has owned a grocery store and operated it in the community for 35 years. Adams’ pharmacy is in the store and she was given two parking stalls to work with. She is the third generation in her family to own a small business in the community.
And though her pharmacy alone provides a much-needed service, Adams has also taken it upon herself to serve on the health department board of the county as a medical representative.
“I make sure that the health department is serving our community the very best that it can. We make policies and enforce things like sewer systems and septic systems and water systems,” Adams said.
She also created a nonprofit that raises money for cancer patients in two counties.
“If they need gas money or food or if they need their house cleaned; whatever makes them feel better and supported,” Adams said. “We fund those things for them.”
Her service to the community doesn’t end there. She has additional responsibilities with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. This requires her to attend meetings quarterly, working to ensure her community continues to have these services.
The county she operates her store in was one of nine in the state that didn’t have a primary provider, until she changed that.
“In January of this year I opened a primary care clinic,” Adams said. “So, I have a doctor’s office here now, I have a nurse practitioner and we have a full telehealth suite.”
“We’re really delivering on a regional level, when I open my new store we’ll serve 12 counties with two stores through deliveries.”
This allows her to contract with Transplant Center in Atlanta. Transplant patients can communicate with the center using the telehealth suite, allowing them to avoid commuting to the center in Atlanta for all of their appointments.
To expand her services further into communities in need, Adams is opening another pharmacy with a tentative goal of the first week of December.
There are no chain pharmacies within 30 miles of her pharmacy and she operates a 50-mile delivery radius. This radius of delivery does cover some areas with chains but in many cases those stores will only deliver in town or within five miles.
“We’re really delivering on a regional level, when I open my new store we’ll serve 12 counties with two stores through deliveries.” Adams said.
Adams has been recognized as a finalist for the Next Generation Pharmacy award in the Entrepreneur category for her efforts. She credits her ability to achieve so much to her staff.
Her two stores will have a full-time pharmacist, a retired part-time pharmacist, a full-time delivery driver and four full-time technicians. She also works as a full-time pharmacist.
“I enabled my staff to be very supportive,” Adams said. “I seem to have a way to motivate people to do that, I think you either have that or you don’t.”
Despite her accolades and great staff, she is not immune to some of the difficulties that come with independent ownership.
“With reimbursements and PBM involvement it makes it extremely difficult to provide for my family,” Adams said.
It isn’t uncommon for her to start the week with nothing and have to hope there’s enough money to pay for the drug bill at the end of the week. There is a struggle to make ends meet.
“Ownership is difficult in some aspects, but the rewards offset those difficulties,” Adams said.
When it comes to being a NCPA finalist Adams said, “It’s kind of hard to believe, because I just do the right thing and I’m a decent person. I don’t see myself doing anything that merits reward, I just do my job.”