Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.
David Vasenden: Sierra Family Pharmacies is a group of four pharmacies: Sierra Compounding Pharmacy (our compounding only pharmacy in south Reno), Hale’s Pharmacy (filling traditional prescriptions on the Renown campus), Sierra Specialty Pharmacy (our long-term-care pharmacy servicing assisted living facilities, group homes and hospice), and Village Pharmacy in Incline Village.
As a compounding pharmacist, I work with the patient and provider (i.e. doctor, nurse practitioner, veterinarian) to provide solutions to medication challenges. Whether it’s flavoring medication for a child, removing dyes or lactose, customizing hormones for women, or preparing a topical application for a pet, we make medications in our lab to make people’s lives a little bit easier.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Vasenden: I am a third generation pharmacist and grew up working in my family’s pharmacy. I saw the interaction my dad had with his patients, and knew that was something I wanted to do.
NNBW: What do you enjoy most about working in your field?
Vasenden: Definitely patient interaction. I enjoy hearing each story and finding a solution for their individual medication challenge.
NNBW: What is the most challenging part about your job?
Vasenden: The healthcare industry is ever changing. Regulations, insurance requirements, laws ... these are all factors that change regularly in our world. Working with prescribers and patients is the easy part. Managing and navigating declining insurance reimbursements would be the most difficult.
NNBW: What do you foresee in the future of your profession?
Vasenden: I think exciting times are ahead as we as a company focus on our core practice, which is compounding. Although we see consolidation of pharmacies and services for patients in the future, there is still a need for independent pharmacy in niches that can continue to serve patients in our local communities and we are proud to be one of those pharmacies. We are anticipating provider status for pharmacists allowing us to help meet gaps in patient care.
NNBW: What advice would you give someone who wants to get into your profession?
Vasenden: Shadow pharmacists in as many different disciplines as possible (i.e. independent pharmacy, compounding pharmacy, hospital setting, etc.) to get a feel for the profession and see if it’s something you might enjoy. This would allow for exploration into the specialties within the profession as well.
NNBW: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you either professionally or personally? A mentor in college told me to take at least two weeks personal vacation every year.
NNBW: Has there been someone who was especially influential in helping you establish your career or in reaching your higher goals? If so, who and how?
Vasenden: My dad had a great balance between owning a pharmacy and family. He inspired me to work hard and play hard, too, and that is something I have carried with me throughout my career.
NNBW: Do you belong to any professional/networking organizations? How has membership benefitted your career?
Vasenden: I am a part of the Professional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA). This group has provided tremendous support and opportunities to be involved with the best practices in the compounding industry. I also serve on the board of the Independent Pharmacy Cooperative (IPC), which has connected me with some the top pharmacy owners in the country, and emphasized the importance of collaborating to achieve excellence in our industry. Also, the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) provides support for our long-term care division and instills the importance of independent pharmacy. And finally, we are involved in the Professional Compounding Accreditation Board (PCAB), which requires an ongoing commitment to quality and safety in compounding.
NNBW: How do you manage your time between the responsibilities of your profession and your personal life?
Vasenden: I make sure I prioritize time with our kids and commit to spending time with family. I’m intentional about taking vacation time away from the pharmacies. And my wife makes me take an anniversary trip every year, which is great.
NNBW: What are your hobbies?
Vasenden: Flying is in my blood. I’m a private pilot and flight instructor. My dad taught us how to fly, I taught our son to fly, and my mom flew until she was in her 80s.
NNBW: Is there a nonprofit or charitable organization that you like to donate your time to?
Vasenden: I’m very involved with Grace Church and their work to fight addiction, offer hope, and provide homes for recovery to those struggling with addictions.
NNBW: Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
Vasenden: Anywhere in the Caribbean, but especially St. Maarten.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why?
Vasenden: Yes! Because I have plenty to do and keep me active. I have so many places I’d like to visit and so many hobbies (flying, motorcycles, kite boarding, skiing, camping, home projects and a great big “honey do” list!) that I have years of things to do!
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in Northern Nevada? What do you like about living/working here?
Vasenden: I first came to Nevada to ski Tahoe 29 years ago and have never left! I love the climate, love the people, and I love the outdoor activities. Plus, coming from northern MN, no bugs is a plus!