Rattler breaks down barriers

Jasper W. Watkins III, a graduate of Florida A&M University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, is now the Bureau Chief for statewide pharmaceutical services, for the Department of Health (DOH), Florida.

Watkins is the first black person in the state of Florida and in the Armed Forces to have completed an ASHP nuclear pharmacy residency program, hold certification and licensure in nuclear pharmacy and a fellowship in medication-use safety.

Watkins said that he is happy to be back in Tallahassee.

“I’m glad to be home with my mentors at FAMU’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences,” Watkins said. “It’s good to retire, serve my country and then come back to serve my state.”

As the Bureau Chief for statewide pharmaceutical services, Florida, Watkins’ daily responsibilities stretch across a broad spectrum. He oversees Florida’s Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, the Florida Formulary system, assists in expansion of the State’s Pharmaceutical Stockpile Program, provides technical support for all areas of Pharmaceutical Services related to preparedness and coordinates with the pharmacy managers of County Health Departments and DOH during times of disaster.

“My daily mission is to promote and protect the health and safety of all Floridians through the delivery of cost-effective, quality pharmaceutical services and leadership in support of readiness, and the management care mission of the Florida Department of Health,” Watkins said.

In addition to devising medication delivery strategies for the state of Florida, Watkins also wants to implement programs for pharmacy students.

“I want to open up the bureau and the county health department to FAMU students on a voluntary and internship basis,” Watkins said. “By the first-year to the fifth-year, pharmacy candidates can come and work for the state. This will give FAMU students both the institutional and community look at pharmacy practice within the state; showing the students there are options within the pharmacy profession.

With such a program in place, some pharmacy candidates think this will present them with more options and more internship opportunities while at school.

“With the influx and growth in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, the program LTC (Ret). Watkins wants to implement would aid the students in completing the mandatory 150 retail hours and 150 hospital hours needed for graduation,” said Cedric Knight, 23, a fifth-year doctor of pharmacy candidate from Live Oak.

Other doctors of pharmacy candidates are pleased that LTC (Ret) Watkins has innovative goals for FAMU.

“Having a goal for a program such as this shows that LTC (Ret) Watkins has great initiative; and it’s initiative like that, that has gotten him to the position he is at today,” said Dwayne L. Simmons, a fourth-year doctor of pharmacy candidate from Chicago, and College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences student body vice president. “It will provide hands-on experience that will make it easier to transition from the classroom to rotation.”

Budgeting in excess of $100 million, and the provision of pharmaceutical services to all DOH facilities, the Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) said he has future goals for the state that will improve services for all.

“My goal is to automate the current prescription delivery system and improve medication order entry for physicians and nurses,” Watkins said. “I also have goals of improving the procurement/distribution system currently in place, and expedite the delivery of drugs in a state of emergency.”

As the recipient of the Military Award of Excellence in Allied Health Care, Order of Military Medical Merit and the Legion of Merit- the highest peace time award, LTC (Ret) Watkins is also a member of several boards and scientific associations such as the President of The Association of Black Health-System Pharmacist, among others.

The Rattler also credited with the development, testing and implementation of approved USP Pharmacopoeia Cold-Chain Management principles for shipping Anthrax vaccine and various “biologicals,” is ready for the new position.

“When I was contacted about a career opportunity in Florida for preparation/readiness, automation, and patient care, I knew it was something I wanted to do, Watkins said. “I’m ready.”