Scruggs Credits KPIC and Mentors for Success
Posted on: May 12, 2020
Michael Scruggs, 2015 Pharm.D., grew up working in his hometown, Chesnee, S.C., in a small corner drugstore. It was there he learned that being a pharmacist meant so much more than just dispensing medications. It also meant building relationships with customers, providing counseling for their medicines and being a trusted source of information.
“I was hired at our local mom-and-pop pharmacy,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what a pharmacist did. I just happened to get a job working for friends of my family.”
That job led to Scruggs becoming a pharmacy tech, and he worked at that same pharmacy all through college, including pharmacy school.
Because of those experiences, it only stands to reason that Scruggs would aspire to one day open his own pharmacy. He realized that dream on April 21, 2020, when he opened Front Range Pharmacy in Denver, Colorado.
Scruggs readily admits that he wasn’t the best student and his grade point average needed some work before he could apply to pharmacy school. Scruggs had attended Gardner-Webb and was transferring to UofSC Upstate, but before he did that, he called the College of Pharmacy and talked to Wayne Buff, Pharm.D., a former community pharmacist who had joined the faculty at the college. He wanted to inquire about his chances of being admitted to the college.
“I was so nervous that my very pitiful GPA from my liberal arts degree would make me unacceptable for pharmacy school. Dr. Buff encouraged me to transfer, apply myself, and demonstrate through my grades and extracurricular activities that I wanted to be a pharmacist,” Scruggs says. “He gave me hope that, if I turned the corner and worked hard, that I could still be admitted to UofSC’s College of Pharmacy.
When Scruggs landed the chance to interview, he recalls the time he spent with Dr. Bryan Ziegler who at the time served as executive director of the Kennedy Pharmacy Innovation Center. “We talked about nothing but ownership,” Scruggs remembers. “I knew then that this was the place for me. It changed my entire trajectory.”
I was in KPIC more than the student lounge and always sought an opportunity to get more involved with the amazing things happening there ...
Michael Scruggs, Pharm.D. Co-Owner, Front Range Pharmacy
Scruggs took advantage of every opportunity made available to pharmacy students through KPIC. He excitedly remembers taking part in the KPIC Business Plan Competition. “I participated in two of those competitions,” he says, “along with a compounding competition and a patient counseling competition.”
He also credits Ziegler, with helping him stay focused on his goals. “I owe Dr. Ziegler so much for his leadership and guidance. Without him and KPIC, I would probably not own Front Range today,” Scruggs says. “Dr. Ziegler was extremely attentive to the needs and dreams of the young entrepreneurs. If you even mentioned pharmacy in a creative way, Dr. Ziegler was there to help you. He was so curious and seemed to see no limits in our profession, and that was truly inspirational. I was in KPIC more than the student lounge and always sought an opportunity to get more involved with the amazing things happening there.”
Scruggs says that for those who want the support, it is readily available. “That’s something that not every pharmacy program can offer. Once I got to my fourth-year rotations, a number of pharmacy owners were happy to help us with counseling and support,” he adds.
After graduation, Scruggs landed at Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy in Hilton Head, S.C. When an opportunity to launch a second location did not come to fruition, Scruggs took some time to reevaluate not only his professional life, but his personal life as well. “All through school, I put everything into pharmacy,” he says.
With a renewed focus, Scruggs relocated to Denver, where he found himself on a different career path, working in the corporate pharmacy world for three years, but determined that was not the right situation for him.
During that time, Scruggs precepted Bridget Logan, a graduate intern that was studying for her NAPLEX and MPJE. “Bridget and I became friends,” Scruggs explains, “and we talked about owning our own pharmacy. It blossomed into a labor of love for both of us and Front Range was born.”
He cautions students who are considering a career as a pharmacy owner to remember that building something from the ground up takes time. “You have to stay patient and stay determined,” he says.
His most important piece of advice is to pay attention to networking. “Grades are important,” he notes, “but the opportunity to build your network through a program that is so well connected like UofSC’s College of Pharmacy is key. The networks I have helped me to build Front Range Pharmacy.”