Bill Ladwig remembers the day in 1978 that he accepted his first full-time job. It was at Lewis Drug, and he was a 21-year-old pharmacy student. He got the internship, which led to a job in 1979, and he never left. Now, he is vice president of professional services for Lewis Drug Stores. Ladwig recently received the 2011 Hustead Award from the South Dakota Pharmacists Association.
Question: You've been a Lewis Drug employee since 1978. How did you get started in the pharmacy profession, and how did you work your way up to management at Lewis?
Answer: I didn't know what I wanted to do. When I graduated from high school, I knew I liked the sciences, and we didn't really have aptitude testing, so it was one of those things, you just took a shot at. So I thought there were three things I could do: medical school at USD, engineering school at State or pharmacy school, because they sounded like they were challenging. This was back in 1974, and dumb luck, I picked pharmacy. I'm a very lucky person. Dumb luck, I just fell into a profession that has a lot of patient contact, and when you love what you do, it's easy to be engaged in what you do, and that's probably the underlying piece of the whole process. I started out working the shelves, doing things along that line, and eventually became vice president of professional services.
Q: Talk about some of the changes you've seen in pharmacy over the years.
A: When I first worked in the pharmacy, you typed all the prescriptions out. You could not put the name of the medication on the label, unless the doctor authorized you to put the name on. It's evolved incredibly from the time where you had a tube with no name on it. It said, "apply once daily" ... you had no idea what it was, the doctor just said apply once a day, it will make it go away, and you had no idea what you were doing. The pharmacy had a prescription number, and there were no electronic files, so if you couldn't find a prescription number, you couldn't get it. To now where it's all Internet-based, order prescriptions over the phone. Pharmacy has just exponentially exploded in the technology world and the education piece.
Q: Talk about your family. You have pictures of your three young granddaughters all over your office. What's it like going from the transition of being Dad to being "Papa?"
A: It's indescribably, incredibly marvelous. Having children is one of the true blessings in life; having grandchildren is the ultimate blessing in life because it's all the fun without any of the work, because you get to spoil them rotten, you intensely play with them as much and as hard as you can, and then they go home. There's nothing better than when they run into your arms and say "Papa" and give you a big hug. It's unbridled love. You just can't find that any place else.
Q: What else do you do in your spare time?
A: I love to golf.
Reach reporter Sarah Reinecke at 331-2326.