Originally Published by The St. Louis American
By Sandra Jordan
Thirty multicultural students from 16 area high schools are spending the next few weeks in hands-on, academic and college prep training in the BESt Summer Pharmacy Institute.
It’s not simply a program to pull some of the brightest area youth together in the summer before their junior and senior years for rigorous math, science and lab activities. The collaboration between Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Express Scripts and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy is building the foundation of young talent for health careers.
“We are attempting to create a pipeline not only into the local pharmacy schools but into the local health arena ultimately,” said Steven Player, inpatient pharmacy manager at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Player developed the program in collaboration with Isaac Butler, clinical program manager at Express Scripts.
Despite an average national salary of more than $100,000, pharmacies and hospitals in the U.S. often find it difficult to fill pharmacist job openings. Pharmacy Manpower Project, a nonprofit serving the industry, predicts a shortfall of 157,000 positions by the year 2020.
This is the second summer for the BESt program, with 22 students returning from last year.
Player said the curricula has received an overhaul since last summer, thanks to input from students.
“Our students wanted to be challenged more – which is always good,” Player said.
“So, for our Rising Juniors we still have the chemistry portion, but we ramped it up to an AP Chemistry curriculum. And we changed our math format to a college-level algebra/trig.”
Brittany Bobo said the best part of her training thus far was a trip to Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
“We were able to make sugar pills and suspensions. We learned about the body and we went to the anatomy museum and we got to examine deceased bodies,” she said.
“And I like the fact that it’s a challenge for me to try harder in everything that I do.”
The BESt program also brought in the Princeton Review to assist in preparation for the ACT and SAT college placement exams.
“In order for us to be accepted into pharmacy school or any post-secondary school, we have to have a good ACT/SAT score,” said Marcus Clay, who is going into his junior year at Hazelwood Central High School.
“That class gives us a lot of tips, a lot of practice tests and the instructor answers a lot of the questions that we had. Before, I was afraid of the test, but now I feel I can get just about any score that I would hope or try for.”
A collegiate-level instructor teaches the Pharmacy 101 course for juniors and seniors – at their request.
“For seniors, their classes now are college credit classes. They are taking college pre-calculus and college English Comp 101,” Player said.
“They will have eight hours of college credit potentially upon passing to use – including ACT/SAT prep. That was direct feedback from them.”
Students will also be able to apply for additional training in higher education.
“The goal now is to have the senior group apply during one of their sessions for the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville,” Player said.
“We will have representatives from the colleges to talk to them about the admission process, answer any questions and get things lined up.”