Impressive Professor: Robert Carlson Prepares Pre-Pharmacy Students for Success
Longtime Butler professor pushes his students to work hard in order to reach their goals.
“My goal is to get students to the next level,” said Butler Community College 2020 Master Teacher Robert Carlson. His Organic Chemistry 1 and 2 courses are some of the most challenging for Butler students planning to attend pharmacy school, and success in these courses is critical to their prospects in the health care field.
For their final exam, Organic Chemistry students complete the American Chemistry Society national standardized test. “I consider a score in the 40th percentile to be an extremely promising addition to a student’s application,” Carlson said. Throughout the year, he tailors his classroom approach to suit pre-pharm students, formatting test questions in ways students are likely to encounter in pharmacy school.
Carlson also teaches Biochemistry, a course developed at the direct request of the University of Kansas’s School of Pharmacy-Wichita. As a result, KU’s School of Pharmacy is home to a large number of Butler alumni, with former Grizzlies accounting for almost half of all first-year students. “When you send them good students year in and year out, you develop [a] reputation,” Carlson said.
Students agree Carlson’s Biochemistry course prepared them well for the speed and granularity of pharmacy school courses, with a class full of fast-paced videos and detailed explanations. But it wasn’t just the way the subject matter was presented or the technology used that made Carlson’s classes so successful. “Once he knows your goals, he will stay on your case,” former student Sabrina Flint said. “If he writes a letter of recommendation, he will check in with you regularly to see where you stand with your application.”
“I hope when they finish up, they email me,” said Carlson. “To me, that's important. Getting those emails from former students saying what they have done. When they do email me, I will laminate it so the other students that come through Butler can say, ‘Hey, there is life after Butler. It is possible.’”
Despite the stereotypical image of a white-coated technician dispensing pills, students who pursue pharmacy school have career options beyond the drug counter. Flint is looking to run an independent pharmacy in a small community, while fellow alumna Hannah Le sees herself working in ambulatory care or a family clinic.
“When you're done with the class,” Carlson said, “I hope you walk away with satisfaction, like, ‘Wow, I really accomplished a lot.’”
By Caleb Sanderson