January 17, 2023

Fertility Pharmacist Spotlight: Meet VFP Pharmacy Group’s Ryan Lowe

Name: Ryan Lowe, PharmD
Title: Pharmacist in Charge
Location: Integrity RX - Phoenix, Arizona

When you work with VFP Pharmacy Group, you’re never just a patient. We believe in getting to know you and your unique situation so we can support you in a way that makes sense for you. A part of that is knowing who makes up your team and finding the right pharmacist whose expertise and experience will help you feel empowered throughout the course of your treatment.

As such, we sat down with Ryan Lowe, the Pharmacist in Charge at our Phoenix, Arizona location, to learn more about his work as a fertility pharmacist and how he guides patients through their treatment.

What interested you in becoming a pharmacist? 

I knew from an early age that I wanted to be involved in healthcare, but I never knew quite what role fit me the best. In college, I really enjoyed my chemistry courses, which were a perfect fit for studying pharmacology. Pharmacy also runs in my family: my mom is a pharmacist, and my dad was a pharmaceutical salesman, so that really helped me set my eyes on becoming a pharmacist as the perfect fit for me.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a pharmacist. 

I went to the University of Arizona, where I studied Physiology in undergrad, and then attended their College of Pharmacy to pursue my PharmD. I very quickly took on numerous leadership positions which fit my creative, optimistic personality. One of them was the President of the National Community Pharmacists Association, which highlights local, independent, and specialty pharmacies that really emphasize patient care and customer service over hitting certain quotas or metrics and pushing out high volumes of prescriptions. It was clear that was the style of pharmacy I enjoyed the most, and it’s very fitting that my current role at Integrity Rx is so similar to the foundations I built at the College of Pharmacy. 

I went on to become the President of our Pharmacy Class and graduated in 2019. I took many specialty and community rotations, which helped emphasize everything I was looking for in a career. I took a short break to travel right after graduation and then, after passing my board exams, was fortunate enough to find an opening with Integrity Rx, and I couldn’t be more thankful they welcomed me into their family, and it’s been an amazing three years since.

Why did you decide to work within the fertility industry as your core focus? 

When I started at Integrity Rx, I had just gotten out of college and did not have an in-depth knowledge of the fertility specialty, but my focus in pharmacy school had taught me a lot about specialty pharmacies. For example, I knew the medications would be more complicated than some tablets you could pick up at a local retail pharmacy. 

I knew as a pharmacist working for a specialty pharmacy that I would need to give that extra level of care and compassion for our patients who already had so many stresses during their fertility journey; my goal was to make it, so the medication component was the least stressful part. Over the last three years, I have fallen in love with this specialty, and I really enjoy being able to take these complex medications and break them down into a language that patients can understand. My personal favorite is when a patient comes to pick up medications in person, and I can counsel them through their medications right in front of them. 

In your estimation, why should patients choose a Fertility Specialty Pharmacy over a typical neighborhood pharmacy?

Fertility medications can get complicated, and your doctor can change things up overnight. On top of that, these medications can get expensive quickly (not even counting the already expensive medical fees associated with this process). Using a Fertility Specialty Pharmacy like Integrity Rx that knows these medications like the back of our hand is such a valuable resource–whether it’s a side effect question or you need some help mixing a medication–we’re here to help every step of the way. 

Our team is trained to work through emergency situations as well because things can and do change overnight, and we know how to work through every possible situation (even after hours). If you are an expert on these medications already, then we still have the advantage over a traditional retail pharmacy in that we can offer the medications at a much cheaper rate. 

What do you appreciate about your daily interactions with patients and/or nurses or physicians? In what ways do you work with them to make their lives a little easier?

I really feel like in the fertility space that the healthcare team is just that–a TEAM. I enjoy building relationships with the doctors and nurses who work directly with patients and we all work very closely to ensure that patients receive the proper medications and changes can be made quickly when needed. They know they can trust us, the pharmacy, to provide high-quality care and quick service to their patients, and they know we are the experts on these medications. I love working with a nurse to problem solve and come up with a solution for the patient. 

At the end of the day, the patient is the most important member of the healthcare team, and every patient deserves individualized care tailored to their needs. It’s a great feeling when it all comes full circle, and we get to see the outcomes of working with all parties to take care of patients.

What advice do you have for fertility patients who are just getting started? 

My biggest piece of advice is to take advantage of the numerous resources that are made available to you. Just from the pharmacy standpoint, there are multiple: we include papers and pamphlets that provide reading on the medications, there are informational videos on our website that provide a nice visual aid, and we are also on call at night and on the weekends in case you have any additional questions. And that’s just the pharmacy! 

Your doctor’s office should also provide you with many tools to ensure that you feel comfortable during this entire process. If you have a question, then you should never feel ashamed to ask – we are here to serve you! It’s much better to ask a question before something happens than potentially after the fact.

What misconceptions do you find people have regarding medications and fertility treatment? (What would you like to tell your patients?)

I think society, for a very long time, had a negative connotation with infertility and people wanted to hide any fertility struggles they were going through. When I started this position, I immediately saw how many patients struggle with fertility. You are not alone in this journey, and it’s been refreshing to see the new sense of community that fertility patients have brought together over the last few years. Social media has helped spread the word, and so many patients are speaking up about their journey and their struggles through avenues like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram posts. 

I like to remind patients that we, as the pharmacy, are always here to help guide them with questions and advice, but now more than ever, there are also so many other valuable resources out there in communities and forums to remind them that you will get through this journey, you will get through any struggles, and to never give up. Many of our staff members have gone through IVF themselves and are very open about the happy moments and the not-so-happy moments to help empathize with patients during the good and the bad.

What do you like about working at VFP Pharmacy Group? 

VFP Pharmacy Group is one big family, and I’m so thankful to be a part of it. I enjoy coming to work every day and seeing my coworkers, sharing laughs, and talking smack about sports teams. The real joy comes from working one on one with our patients and helping them through their journey. It’s without a doubt that my favorite part of the job is talking with patients, whether in person or over the phone, and helping them break down complicated medications or just hearing more about their stories. 

At VFP, there is no rush to make X number of phone calls per day or verify a certain number of prescriptions, and that freedom allows me to spend more time talking with patients if I need to. There is a lot of flexibility in my day-to-day life, but it is all centered around making sure patients have the best outcomes 100% of the time.

When you're not behind the counter and/or instructing patients on proper medication use/application, what do you get up to? What are your hobbies outside of work? 

I love to stay active in a variety of ways! I enjoy running Spartan Races that challenge me physically and mentally but also love hitting the gym with a new playlist to get that workout in. Lately, my newest obsession has been boxing, and I really enjoy the dynamic and high-energy workout that it provides. 

I’m a big Arizona sports fan (go Suns and Cardinals!) and try to catch a game at least once a year. Otherwise, there’s nothing better than going to a new brewery for some craft beer and taking advantage of that great Arizona weather. I’ve also caught the travel bug, so I love to use my PTO to travel across the country and, hopefully soon, further explore the globe!

We’re not just a pharmacy where you can go to fill your prescriptions. We’ll help make getting started a little easier and using fertility medications simpler. To learn more about working with VFP, contact us today