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College of Pharmacy

  • Everett McAllister

Q & A with: Everett B. McAllister

"I believe we all have a purpose and call on our lives ..."

Posted on: November 18, 2020;  Photo: Lisa Helfert, Wesley Theological Seminary, 2020. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

University of South Carolina alumnus and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Everett B. McAllister's (1984 B.S. pharmacy) illustrious career was built on a foundation of integrity, service and excellence – but it was an even deeper calling which directed his career path.


Tell us about what you do:

Throughout my 26-year military career, I held senior pharmacy and executive-level positions within the United States Air Force and Department of Defense. My work involved pharmacy operations, clinical research, education and training, wartime contingencies and peacetime emergencies planning.  My last assignment was attached to the Pentagon, serving as the senior Department of Defense’s military pharmacist and policy advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs supporting management and execution of the $7.6B DoD TRICARE Pharmacy Benefit.  I've worked collaboratively with the Food & Drug Administration, the Veteran Health administration and the national pharmacy professional organizations.

After retiring from the Air Force and taking a year off, I was hired as Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). There, I was responsible for the leadership of the nation’s leading certifying body for pharmacy technicians.  I worked with key stakeholders such as employers, educators and regulators to advance a national standard to protect patient safety. It was a very rewarding career move.

I believe we all have a purpose and call on our lives. After two successful careers, I finally decided it was time to enter the ministry. Currently, I am a third-year Master of Divinity Seminarian at Wesley Theological Seminary, anticipating graduation in May 2021. I don’t believe it was by accident that I had certain jobs or opportunities. While my previous career and life experiences have helped equip me to do what I believe God has called me to do, I also recognized that formal theological education and training was a requisite part of the plan.

How did you get interested in pharmacy?

I was initially considering medical school but thought (how naïve of me) that eight years was too long to be in school.  I figured that if I changed my mind, pharmacy would be a natural pathway into medicine since there were many similarities between the two disciplines.  I was a four-year ROTC graduate and had only planned to do the four year commitment...but I was enjoying it so much I decided to stay on a little longer with each new assignment. 

Who has been a mentor to you?

There has not been one mentor.  I prefer to think of it as "mentorship by committee." There have been different people in my life along the way that have helped me professionally and personally. They were positive role models and each in their own way provided valuable lessons. 

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Life has taught me to cherish every moment. Family and relationships are more valuable, fulfilling and sustaining than career, fortune and fame.  Life is too short and in many cases there are no second opportunities.  There are things beyond our control so live your life, for "this too shall pass."

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Let me get back to you when life returns to normal after COVID 19.  I don’t know how fun it would be with all the restrictions ...

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

When I initially saw this question, I thought "I am not sure I would want to go back in time..."  There are too many modern conveniences I would miss and would not want to give up. If I could change something, I would go back to when my second son was born.  He was coming pretty fast and it was between shift change.  I thought I was going to have to deliver him myself.  In all the chaos, I forgot to turn on the camera and capture his delivery. 

I think I would also like to travel back to when Christ was on earth.  It would be fascinating to observe his three-year ministry and all the issues, challenges and conversations surrounding it.

What is your favorite memory from pharmacy school at UofSC?

Besides graduating, it was: (1) being named first runner up "Mr. Pharmacy - 1983." I do not remember who won that year. I was surprised I was even nominated, no less a contender; (2) I remember making an appointment with Dean Julian Fincher to discuss the pharmacy program. I had not applied for pharmacy school and was thinking about medical school. I had a long list of questions to ask him and he was gracious and patient to answer all of them. I am pretty sure he doesn’t remember the visit but it meant a lot that he took time out of his day to meet with me.

Why did you choose the University of South Carolina?

There were several factors that went into my decision making. The school had a great academic reputation. The rigor, facilities, faculty and student encounters were also very important and attractive. I did consider some out-of-state programs, but it made sense financially to attend school in the state. I also wanted a “one-stop” program. I thought my chances of getting accepted into pharmacy school would be better if I completed the pre-pharmacy program at Carolina.

What is your advice for current students / future pharmacy professionals?

Caring for patients is paramount and as a profession we should leverage all that we have to provide the best possible care and access. Put yourself in the patient’s shoes and ask yourself how would you want to be treated. Be ready to embrace new opportunities and new ways of doing things that will move healthcare and the profession forward. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have paved the path before us and thus we have a commitment and expectation to continue to build that future by enabling others. Tomorrow successes are underwritten and assured by the continued investment in the those who will follow.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

My wife and I have discussed this several times over the years - At the top of the list is Denzel Washington followed by Idris Elba. The young Everett would have been played by Chadwick Bozeman, but he is no longer with us, so Michael B. Jordan is certainly on the short list. 

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