While his mother worked as a pharmacist at a major university hospital, his father – also a pharmacist – ran a small rural clinic where health care was scarce and he often had to compound a variety of drug concoctions. “I saw all sides,” Forrester laughs.
No wonder, then, that the associate professor of clinical pharmacy at the USC School of Pharmacy is comfortable at the frontier of transplantation pharmacology – a complicated field where managing more than a dozen medications for each patient is the norm.
As part of the specialized cardiothoracic surgery team at Keck Hospital of USC, Forrester develops, manages and monitors drug therapy for heart and lung transplant patients. Most studies on transplant medications are devoted to liver and kidneys, he notes, so “I’m always massaging protocols or drug therapy techniques into programs that best support our patients and the transplanted organs.”
The field is changing, he says. “More and more, the pharmacist is part of the transplant team. The medication regimen for these patients is fairly substantial and complicated, we have to find the best therapy for each patient, and we have to manage patient expectations. They often have no idea how many medications are involved.”
A dedicated teacher, Forrester’s philosophy is to give back to all the mentors, including his parents, who greatly influenced him by doing the same for others. He does this daily in the transplant unit where he teaches pharmacy students as well as residents.
“I am charged with the responsibility of developing practitioners with the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes. The only reward I can give my mentors is to make sure the people I mentor go on to create possibilities for themselves and others as they improve the practice of pharmacy and the health of their patients.”