American Pharmacists Association leader visits UNMC

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC strategic communications | November 06, 2020

Image with caption: College of Pharmacy alum Scott Knoer, PharmD, right, made a triumphant return to campus as 13th CEO/executive vice president of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). He was joined by dean Keith Olsen, PharmD, left and Cassidy Bruns, center, president of UNMC's chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP).

College of Pharmacy alum Scott Knoer, PharmD, right, made a triumphant return to campus as 13th CEO/executive vice president of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). He was joined by dean Keith Olsen, PharmD, left and Cassidy Bruns, center, president of UNMC's chapter of the American Pharmacists Association Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP).

It would have been a big deal for the head of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to visit the UNMC College of Pharmacy no matter who it is.

But APhA's 13th CEO/executive vice president, Scott Knoer, earned his PharmD at UNMC in 1996.

It was a homecoming on Oct. 21.

"It feels comfortable," Dr. Knoer said.

"It's Pharmacy Week," said Keith Olsen, PharmD, dean of the College of Pharmacy. "He could have gone to any place in the country. But he chose to come back to his alma mater."

Dr. Knoer (pronounced kah-nor) has been head of the nation's largest association of pharmacists, representing more than 60,000 members, for just a few months. He was previously chief pharmacy officer of the Cleveland Clinic, where he was responsible for nearly 1,600 pharmacy jobs and a $1.4 billion drug budget.

APhA headquarters is the only non-government owned building on the national mall in Washington, D.C. Dr. Knoer said his office looks out on the Lincoln Memorial.

But Dr. Olsen is more impressed that APhA is trusted by tens of thousands of colleagues around the U.S. And a UNMC pharmacist is at its head.

"To have an alumnus lead an organization like that is significant to us," the dean said.

Dr. Knoer said his previous role, at the Cleveland Clinic, was a dream job. But, he found he had a passion for advocacy -- serving as a face and voice speaking on behalf of pharmacists and pharmacy, its practice and science.

At APhA, he could do this as a significant part of his full-time job, as opposed to as a sideline.

Dr. Knoer gave current UNMC pharmacy students a presentation on his circuitous route to success: he managed a Valentino's pizza place in Nebraska City, Neb. He sold China sets in Germany when his wife was in the Army. A "weed-out" course once weeded him out.

He did not start pharmacy school at UNMC until he was 30. But it was here that he found his niche.

He then embarked on a steadily -- if meanderingly -- upward career path, thanks to living by credos such as: "life is about relationships;" "have a bias for yes;" and, "every day is a job interview."

He urged the pharmacy students to strive for success. And, to remember that a tough job/salary market is cyclical. Look for opportunities, he said.

"The more you limit yourself," Dr. Knoer said, "the more you limit yourself."

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