Campus News

Pharmacy professor finds ways to impact his students, profession

“2006 was a really good year for me,” said Keith Herist, clinical associate professor at the College of Pharmacy, about receiving top recognition for his academic and professional endeavors. He was named Teacher of the Year at the pharmacy college and Distinguished Young Pharmacist by the Georgia Pharmacy Association. He was elected the first treasurer of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

“I have found a way to make an impact on students and on the profession,” he said.

Like many pharmacists, Herist became interested in pharmacy because of its ethics and reputation as one of the most highly respected professions. Wanting to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from HIV/AIDS made him decide to become a pharmacist so he could help in the crisis. Having worked for 15 years as a certified public accountant, he also appreciated the more personal aspects of pharmaceutical practice.

Like many pharmacy educators, Herist wanted to positively affect the lives of students as well as patients. He teaches courses in pharmacy practice skills, pharmacy management and HIV pharmacotherapy. He also conducts a seminar on current treatments, new drugs and drug interactions.   

“Students must learn to think for themselves to be competent practitioners. The vast amount of information learned in lecture has to be integrated into actual pharmacy practice in a logical manner,”  said Herist, who continues to practice community pharmacy.  “Creating that bridge is essential for students to develop both professional judgment and pharmacy practice skills.”

Clinical service, volunteering effort and participation in extramural activities are invaluable in teaching professionalism, according to Herist, who has enjoyed practicing pharmacy in a variety of arenas. He volunteers at Mercy Health Center, a clinic that serves the uninsured population in the area, and at AIDS/Athens where the emphasis is on prevention and education.

“AIDS is no longer a death sentence,” said Herist, who serves as the organization’s treasurer. “Just within the last 10 years, the prognosis for an AIDS patient has gone from just a few years to 24 years with the current medications available. It is now regarded as a chronically manageable disease, and I’m proud to be part of that.”

His desire to serve and his accounting expertise are also apparent in his professional relationship with the Georgia Pharmacy Association as a member of PharmPAC, the GPhA board of directors and the audit committee. In addition, his appointment as the first treasurer of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy was a significant statement about his career and credentials where he serves concurrently as a member of the AACP board of directors and the finance committee.

“I appreciate a profession that allows me a variety of professional opportunities,” he said. “I can integrate my knowledge from different careers while educating students to be good pharmacists and meet patient needs throughout society.”