Forging His Own Path
Published on 27 April 2015
Most high school students spend their summers swimming, traveling or spending time with friends, but during the summer of 2003, Harold Carter ’11, Pharm.D., set out to make a difference. With some encouragement from his parents, Carter dedicated the summer between his sophomore and junior years to helping others in a volunteer role at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital-St. Louis that would lead him to his career in pharmacy.
"Through my volunteer experience, I gained exposure to all the different functions of the hospital," Carter said. "One of the areas that intrigued me the most was the pharmacy and all the interactions the pharmacists had with patients and other health care professionals on a daily basis."
This early experience in health care sparked Carter’s interest in pharmacy, leading him to pursue additional opportunities to learn more about the profession. He soon found a position at Walgreens where he would gain experience working in a community pharmacy setting throughout his college career. Through this position, Carter met an alumnus from St. Louis College of Pharmacy who inspired him to pursue his Pharm.D.
"What really helped me make my decision was connecting with alumni who encouraged me to learn more about pharmacy," Carter said. "I found that a lot of the people I was interacting with in the pharmacy profession had either attended STLCOP, or knew of the College’s prestigious reputation. I still find that in my career today."
After gaining experience in a community setting, Carter was eager to explore other areas of pharmacy.
"I remember attending one of the College’s career fairs where I met representatives from different companies and pharmacies from around the area," Carter said. "After learning more about Express Scripts, I went on to do a summer internship there. It was such a great experience that I completed another internship with them the following summer and stayed in touch with the leadership team."
To continue his training in a corporate setting, Carter decided to forge his own path, setting up a new rotation.
"I really wanted to go into managed care based on my summer internships," Carter said. "So I sought out rotations during my professional years that would help me gain that experience."
After a five-week rotation with Humana Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky, Carter was confident he had found the career path for him. Following graduation, Carter accepted a role at Express Scripts Inc. (ESI) with the same group he worked with as a student pharmacist and has continued his career there. In his current role as director of clinical solutions, he leads the development, management and creation of key strategic clinical and financial initiatives for the company.
"What I really enjoy about my current position is the opportunity to use my clinical knowledge in a corporate setting," Carter said. "My role is about aligning clinical knowledge with the financial and business aspects of pharmacy. We’re also creating management solutions for our clients so they can provide better care to their patients while managing medication costs."
Carter has enjoyed a diverse range of work experiences with ESI, from helping with the initial integration process with Medco Health Solutions Inc. to product development for their plan sponsors.
"My day-to-day is pretty varied," Carter shared. "The most important parts of my role involve discussing new drugs that are coming to the marketplace, analyzing current practice treatments and planning the best way to manage those drugs for our clients."
Since graduating, Carter has stayed involved with the College, helping with career fairs and networking events, assisting with the BESt Pharmacy Summer Institute and serving as a preceptor for students. He also hopes to assist with the College’s efforts to enhance opportunities to learn about managed care, noting the growing amount of jobs in this area of pharmacy.
"I really enjoy being able to give our summer interns and externs on rotation insight into what managed care involves, not just from a pharmacy benefits management prospective but explaining how they can leverage their clinical knowledge to make recommendations for plan sponsors and patients," Carter said. "It’s essential for students to understand the importance of cost as a factor because you can make a clinical recommendation to treat a condition, but if the plan sponsor or patient can’t afford the medication, it’s an irrelevant recommendation."
Carter’s advice to current students is to always be open to new experiences through their didactic work and rotations.
"There is always something you can take out of each experience while you’re in pharmacy school to build on and learn from," Carter shared. "By seeking out new opportunities to follow your specific interests in pharmacy, you can build a rewarding career to remain passionate about for years to come."
Carter remembers his time at the College with fondness, reflecting on the many relationships he built. His best memory at STLCOP was meeting his wife, Callie (Trexell) Carter ’11, Pharm.D. They dated throughout their time at the College and got married shortly after graduation. They are enjoying their new role as parents to their one-year-old son, Eston.