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They’re the BESt

Express Scripts’ Issac Butler, PharmD, MBA; future pharmacist Terrence Harris; and Barnes-Jewish Hospital’s Steven Player, PharmD, MBA
Across the United States, there is a shortage of pharmacists and a growing awareness of the need for diversity within the healthcare system to promote culturally competent care.

Steven Player, PharmD, MBA, and Isaac Butler, PharmD, MBA, are more aware of the problem than most because they’re working to fix it. Both are pharmacists themselves—Player is the center for diveristy and cultural competency director at Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals; Butler is a clinical program manager at Express Scripts.

Together, they created the Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Express Scripts and St. Louis College of Pharmacy (BESt) Summer Pharmacy Institute to increase multicultural high school enrollment in pharmacy school in the St. Louis area. The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Express Scripts Foundation provided equal funding for BESt, with additional support from the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Auxiliary.

Launched in 2008, BESt has a mission to educate young people about the pharmacy profession and its opportunities, while equipping them with knowledge and skills that are vital to succeeding in pharmacy.

“Our goal is to foster the talent that lies within the diverse St. Louis high school community,” says Player. “Ultimately, we want the students to enroll in pharmacy schools and then become part of a stronger, larger, more diverse pool of pharmacists that will serve the greater good of St. Louis.”

The first 4-week session of BESt welcomed 30 rising sophomores and juniors from the St. Louis area out of 100 applicants. One of those students, Terrence Harris—a junior at Hazelwood Central High School—had no thoughts of pharmacy as a career path until BESt.

“BEST not only broadened by knowledge of pharmacy, but opened my eyes to how a pharmacist can change lives,” says Harris. “The greatest part of the program for me was learning how to make difference medicines. Once I receive my degree, my goal is to work with cancer patients, hopefully in pediatrics.”

The BESt program includes college-credit courses in calculus and composition, algebra and trigonometry classes, chemistry classes and labs, a pharmaceutics lab, an ACT preparation class, and field trips to pharmacy settings.

“Our program is the only one I know of to go beyond the exposure phase to actual preparation,” Butler says. “Even if students who complete the program don’t pursue pharmacy, they will have college credit when they start college. This program prepares them for life after high school.”

Excerpted from “They’re the BESt” in Giving 2009, Issue 1
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